Fire Safety

At Co-op Homes we want to help you to live safely in your home. This page gives you important information about fire safety issues.

Co-op Homes as your landlord, has a legal duty to make sure that our buildings have a reasonable resistance to fire, particularly along enclosed corridors and staircases within the common areas of domestic premises, taking into account the building regulations that were in place when the building was originally built.

Please read this important information about how you can help to ensure that you and your family are safer in your home. Co-op Homes through the Richmond Housing Partnership Group has consulted with the fire brigade in preparing this advice and our approach.

Escaping in the Event of a Fire if you live in a house or a flat with no communal access areas:

The London Fire Brigade have published some useful information on their website about planning for escape in the event of a fire. A copy of this guidance is included with this letter and more useful information can be found below. The key advice is:-

  • Have a plan for what you will do if there is a fire. Make sure you and your family are aware of it and practice it regularly.
  • If there is a fire, the most important thing is to get out of the building and stay out of the building if you possibly can. Call 999 so that the emergency services can attend as quickly as possible.
  • The best escape route is usually your normal way in and out of the building unless this is blocked by fire or smoke. Plan for a second escape route and make sure everyone in your household knows what it is and how to use it.
  • Test doors with the back of your hand before opening them. If they are warm to the touch you should not open them as the fire is on the other side.
  • As you leave the building, close doors behind you to delay the spread of fire.
  • If there is a lot of smoke, crawl close to the floor as the air will be clearer there.
  • Do not leave by a window unless you are on the ground or first floor. Throw bedding or other soft furnishing out to break your fall. Don’t jump but lower yourself to the ground.
  • If you live in a flat and the fire is in your flat leave the building closing the door behind you and alert people by shouting and banging on doors as you leave. Do not delay your departure.
  • Never use the lift during a fire escape.

If you live in a flat with shared communal access areas•

If you are in a flat and your access route is communal and the fire is elsewhere, you may be safer to stay in your flat unless you are being affected by heat and smoke. Stay near a window.

If your exit from the building is obviously free from danger you should leave.

  • Once you have left a building which is on fire, do not return to it for any reason until the fire service say that it is safe to do so.
  • If you cannot leave you should gather together all of the people in your home and stay in one room to wait for rescue. Ideally, this should be a room which has a window and a phone. Seal the doors with towels or blankets and wet down the door if it becomes hot. Wave or shout from the window to attract the attention of the fire service.

Free Home Fire Safety Visit

The Fire Brigade will carry out a free home fire safety assessment. You can apply for a visit on line at

Preventing Fires

You have an important role to play in making sure that fire does not start in your block. This letter covers your responsibilities in terms of:

  • Smoking
  • Keeping communal areas clear of all items
  • Renewing doors and windows

More helpful advice about preventing fires can be found on the London Fire Brigade Website at


Smoking is one of the main causes of fires at home, causing more than 40% of all deaths from fire in domestic properties. When you smoke inside your own home, you should be very careful to ensure that you put cigarettes and cigars out fully.

It is against the law to smoke in any common area of your block. This includes the corridors, lobbies, lifts, balconies and stairwells. If you do smoke in common areas, you are breaking the law and are in breach of your tenancy agreement or lease. As smoking is such a major cause of fire, we will take firm action – including legal action - to stop it.

Keeping Communal Areas Clear

In order to make sure that you, your family and others can leave safely if there is a fire, it is critical that the escape routes are free from obstruction.

The communal areas of the block do not belong to any individual – even the area immediately outside your front door. In general, you do not have a right to store or leave anything in the common areas of the building. In particular, you are not allowed to keep anything in the common areas of the block – including in drying areas and on communal balconies or walkways. For example:

  • Bicycles
  • Buggies or prams
  • Scooters
  • Large Plant Pots
  • Children’s toys
  • Washing lines, hangars or drying racks
  • Shelves, bookcases or storage units
  • Carpets
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Combustible material including paper and cloth

Again, given how important this is, we intend to take swift and firm action to enforce this rule. Where we find any of these articles in the common areas, we will label items for removal and will remove them within 3 working days. We take no responsibility for damage to property which has to be removed because it is in an incorrect place. We will store this property for 1 calendar month, after which it will be destroyed or disposed.

For smaller items, such as small plant pots and flat door mats, we will adopt a risk based approach. This means that our housing staff will identify anything that they believe is a hazard and will notify you that it needs to be removed. If the item is not removed within 3 working days, it will be removed by us and destroyed or disposed.

Replacing Doors or Windows

The current Building Regulations require all new doors and windows which open onto an enclosed corridor or stairwell to remain resistant to fire for 30 minutes. Where Co-op Homes replaces communal doors or windows, we ensure that this standard is met.

We have recently had experience of customers replacing their own front doors where the door fitted does not meet the required standard. Please remember that if you want to change a front door or window you must:

  • Seek permission in advance by contacting Co-op Homes.
  • Provide evidence that the door or window meets the required fire resistance standard.
  • Ensure that the work is done to a good standard and avoid damage to any part of the communal area.
  • Let us know when the work is complete so that we can check everything is alright.

If you need any help with identifying whether doors and windows meet the standard, please speak to your Housing Officer for help.

Smoke Alarms

You should make sure you have a smoke alarm in your home and that you test it on a weekly basis. Never remove the battery from a smoke alarm except to change it. Always test the alarm immediately after changing the battery.

Our aim is to help you to live as safely in your home as we can. If you have any questions or safety concerns, please contact your Community Housing Advisor on 020 3166 2608.