How you can prevent fires
There are things you can do to prevent fires and keep your home, neighbours' homes and your community safe.
All council flats should be fitted with hard wired smoke and heat alarms.
If you're a council leaseholder, you can contact the London Fire Brigade who can fit battery operated smoke alarms in your home for free, as part of their home fire safety visit service. Leaseholders who sublet their home must make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed, as this is a legal requirement.
You should test your alarm weekly by pressing the small button marked 'test'. If working correctly, the alarm will sound for 10 to 20 seconds then stop. Once a month it is also advisable to run a vacuum nozzle over the alarm (if you can reach safely), to remove dust or cobwebs.
If your flat does not have a smoke alarm, you think the alarm is broken or it starts to 'beep' (this means the backup battery needs replacing), you should request a repair.
Keep communal areas clean and safe
Communal areas must be kept clear of all personal items and rubbish at all times. This is important to ensure residents can get out quickly and safely if there is a fire or other emergency. This will also help emergency services work safely within the building. For more information on our communal areas policy view our clean and safe policy (PDF, 168.17 KB).
Flat entrance fire doors
Most flats are fitted with fire doors or fire door sets. Fire doors are a critical safety feature, as they prevent a fire spreading throughout a building. If a flat door fails to work correctly, it will let smoke and flames move around the building and could prevent residents from escaping.
It is therefore important residents do not:
- remove or tamper with the closing device
- change their flat door without our consent
- damage their flat door, which includes:
- damaging the frame by forcing it open
- changing the lock, letterbox or hinges
- installing additional items to the door, such as extra locks, a viewer or door chain
- installing an external security gate
It is unlikely your flat has a fire door if:
- you access your flat directly from the street
- it is on the ground floor and you do not walk through an enclosed building entrance area
- you live in a purpose-built block of flats and access your home from an open balcony walkway, and on leaving your home you could turn left or right to reach a staircase or exit door
Council residents are not allowed to use barbecues (BBQs) inside their homes, including balconies or roof terraces. The storage and use of contained gases (for example, Calor gas) is also prohibited in council properties. If your flat has a private garden, you may use a wood or charcoal fueled BBQ.
For BBQ safety tips, visit London Fire Brigade.
Smoking is not allowed in communal areas of buildings.
If you're a smoker and would like support to stop smoking, you can find help by visiting NHS quit smoking.
There have been many fire incidents caused by electrical installations and appliances over recent years. Manufacturers regularly recall products for safety issues.
You can check for product recall updates by visiting product recall campaign. You can also keep up to date with product recall and safety notices by registering your electrical appliances directly with the manufacturer (details supplied when you purchase) or visit register my appliance.
For advice on preventing electrical fires visit London Fire Brigade.
Bonfires and fireworks
Residents are not allowed to hold bonfires and firework displays on council housing estates. For everyone's safety we recommend you attend an organised event. However if your flat has its own garden where you're planning to set off fireworks, you should visit London Fire Brigade for safety tips.
Cooking is one of the major causes of fires in the home.
For safety tips visit London Fire Brigade.
Electrical heaters can be a great way to warm up a room quickly but can cause fires if used incorrectly. For advice on how to keep warm and stay safe, visit London Fire Brigade.
If you use an electric blanket, we recommend you visit London Fire Brigade for advice on how to reduce the risk of fire.
Residents are not allowed to install open fires in their homes.
If you're finding it difficult to heat your home due to financial problems, you should contact us for help. You can also visit Citizens Advice for information about grants and benefits available to help you pay your energy bills, or you can contact your energy company for advice.
If you would struggle in a power cut, talk to UK Power Networks about the Priority Services Register. This is a private list of customers who need extra help due to mobility issues, vision or hearing impairments, or because they are older or unwell. If there is a power cut, call Freephone 105 for help and advice (available 24 hours a day).
Residents are not allowed to use candles, tea lights or incense burners in communal areas. If you use these items inside your home, visit London Fire Brigade for safety advice.
When celebrating a religious festival or birthday, it's important you follow these safety tips:
- Check your fairy lights carry the British Safety Standard sign
- Paper decorations can burn easily, so do not attach them to lights or heaters
- Never place candles, tea lights or incense burners near fabrics or decoration that can catch light easily
- Keep candles, lighters and matches out of children's reach
- Never leave burning candles unattended
- Never overload electrical sockets
- Always switch fairly lights off and unplug them before you go to bed
- Most fires start in the kitchen, so avoid leaving cooking unattended
- Avoid cooking if you have been drinking alcohol
- Make sure your family and visitors know how to escape in an emergency
- Make sure cigarettes are put out properly
We request that residents do not build temporary structures (for example, Sukkahs) on their balconies or in communal areas. You should limit festive decorations to within your homes.
Most major house fires occur at night when people are asleep, so you should carry out some fire safety checks before you go to bed.
Make sure you follow our guidance for testing your smoke alarm. Having a working smoke alarm could save your life.
Fire escape planning
If you live in a council managed block of flats or a house which has been converted into flats, it is important you know and understand what to do in an emergency.
Know your plan
All new council tenants are given a copy of the fire evacuation strategy for their new home. This is sometimes called a 'fire action plan'. This plan tells you what to do if there is a fire in your home or other part of the building. It is important you read it carefully and understand. If you have any questions you should speak to your housing officer.
All residents living in council managed properties must be able to follow the evacuation plan for their building and be able to leave their home if required, without assistance. If you, someone you live with or a neighbour might find it difficult to escape in an emergency, you should ask your housing officer for a risk assessment to be completed. See information on person centric risk assessment below.
Fire action notices can be found on the ground floor and adjacent to lifts (where provided) in all blocks and provide information to residents and visitors on what to do in the event of a fire.
Living in a block of flats
In accordance with national guidance, all council managed purpose-built blocks of flats operate a defend in place, commonly referred to as 'stay put, if safe' policy. If anything changes, we will let residents know in writing.
For more information, view the home fire safety guide for purpose-built flats and maisonettes (PDF, 342.75 KB), or visit London Fire Brigade and watch their stay put advice video.
Living in a house converted to flats
Flat conversions or converted street properties have a different fire evacuation strategy or plan to purpose-built blocks of flats. This is because the structure of the building is unable to prevent fire spreading between flats, as designed to do in a block of flats.
The fire action plan for all converted properties is 'full evacuation'. This means if there is a fire in your home or another part of the building, all residents must leave immediately.
For more information, view our fire evacuation strategy for flat conversions (PDF, 60.86 KB) or visit London Fire Brigade.
Living in sheltered or supported accommodation for older persons
As with purpose-built blocks of flats, older persons accommodation or specialised housing accommodation is designed and constructed to prevent fires from spreading internally.
The evacuation plan for our specialised housing blocks is 'stay put, if safe', unless residents have been informed otherwise.
For more information, view our fire evacuation strategy for specialised housing units (PDF, 108.17 KB).
Person-centred risk assessments - supporting residents to live in their homes
If you or someone in your household might find it difficult to leave your home in an emergency, or you're concerned about a vulnerable neighbour, you should complete the fire risk assessment self-referral form (PDF, 309 KB).
If the assessment shows you are at increased risk from fire, you should contact your housing officer and request a 'person-centred risk assessment'. As your landlord we have a duty to ensure all our residents are safe in their homes.
One of our officers will then arrange to visit you at home to talk about your concerns.
With your consent we may arrange for a follow up visit with one of our fire risk advisors or officers from the London Fire Brigade. This is to talk about what steps need to be taken to keep you safe.
Visit how you can prevent fires for advice on staying safe in your home.
Fire Risk Assessments
A Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) is an evaluation of a building's risk of fire on that day only. It identifies potential fire risks and makes recommendations to reduce the risk where practical.
FRAs in council housing blocks
All council housing buildings with a shared common area have a regular FRA as required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
How FRAs are completed
An assessor inspects the building to identify things that could start a fire (ignition sources) and things that will burn (fuel sources) to measure the likelihood of a fire occurring. They then assess how existing fire precautions would perform in a fire, to limit the fire spreading and reduce potential for injury to occupants and damage to the building. The overall risk category is determined by multiplying the likelihood of a fire occurring by the severity, should it occur.
The assessor then makes recommendations to either reduce the likelihood of a fire, by removing or controlling ignition and fuel sources, or reducing the severity of a fire by installing additional fire precautions. The type of fire precautions recommended will depend on the age and height of the building, how it is constructed and who lives there.
Standards our assessors work to
Assessors follow national guidance from the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) and the Local Government Group (LGG) to determine what level of precautions are needed at each building. They hold relevant professional qualifications and memberships to fulfil current competency requirements for undertaking assessments across our buildings.
How often FRAs are completed
We are required by law to carry out FRAs on all blocks of flats with communal areas. Risk assessments are reviewed annually for all buildings over 10 storeys, sheltered and supported blocks, and community hall facilities. The review cycle for our other buildings is set by the assessor, based on the type of building, the level of management controls witnessed and their overall assessment of the risk.
We also review FRAs where we have completed works, a fire has occurred, there has been a change to statutory requirements or best practice, or a resident raises a fire safety concern to us.
Getting a copy of your building's FRA
From 2019 we will be sharing details of the latest FRAs with residents in buildings of 10 stories or more, as each assessment is completed. This pilot will be extended to residents in blocks of 6 stories or more later in the year.
Residents living in low rise blocks can ask for a copy of their building's FRA by making a Freedom of Information request.
When the assessor completes his assessment, they will identify any additional actions needed to remove a hazard (something with the potential to cause harm) or improve the current level of precautions within the building. These actions are referred to as significant findings or findings.
How FRA findings or actions are prioritised
The assessor will prioritise actions for completion as high, medium or low.
High priority actions indicate where action is needed quickly to control or reduce a significant risk which could start a fire or harm someone. In some circumstances we may be unable to work on high risk actions immediately, but will put in place a temporary measure to control the risk while we carry out a permanent solution.
Medium priority actions are needed to control the risk of a fire starting or control the severity of a fire if one occurs, to reduce the overall risk profile of the building. Where actions such as removing rubbish to clear corridors or repairs to existing building parts (for example, doors) are identified, we will seek to complete these actions as quickly as possible.
If additional fire precautions, or the upgrade or replacement of an existing precaution (for example, lighting system or detection system) are needed, this will take us longer to organise as we will need to get statutory approval (planning, building control or listed building approvals) and consult with leaseholders.
Where possible, and if we're happy it will not expose residents to risk, we will package fire improvement works into planned building refurbishment works.
Low priority actions are minor matters which will have little effect on the buildings risk profile but are needed to meet statutory or best practice requirements (for example, signage or upgrade of emergency lighting system). These will be either actioned as a repair or in conjunction with a planned fire improvement scheme (as detailed above).
Why some FRA actions have not been completed
Not all actions can be completed quickly, see 'how FRA findings or actions are prioritised' above. If you have a specific concern and would like an update regarding planned works at your building, email email@example.com.
Overall risk rating
As part of the assessment process we ask our assessors to provide an overall risk rating for each building. This is based on several factors, including:
- how well it is managed
- who is living there
- the risk of fire
This overall risk rating allows us to focus on buildings which need better management or investment.
The highest risk category is awarded in exceptional circumstances where immediate action is needed
Where substantial risks are found a building may receive a rating of significant. This rating is not often awarded and usually based on one or two specific issues.
Risk reduction measures are needed within a set time period. Most council blocks will fall into this category.
No major additional actions are needed
No action is needed. Very few buildings fall into this category.
*Enfield Council does not have buildings with a risk rating of intolerable.
Safety of buildings with a 'significant' risk rating
If a building's risk rating has been identified as 'significant', we will take steps to control the risks as quickly as possible and prioritise the building for fire safety improvement works.
We would not allow residents to remain in their homes if we believed there was a risk to life.
How to report a building or fire safety concern
If you're worried about fire safety or other building safety concerns, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enfield Council is committed to making its housing stock the safest in London and we want to ensure our residents are updated on all the work we are doing with the government, now and in the future, to improve our housing stock and keep you safe.
We are confident that our housing stock is safe and are taking appropriate steps to minimise the risk to our residents, but we want to go well above and beyond what is required by the law, so you have absolute confidence in the safety of the buildings you live in.
In the last year, we have:
- appointed a new team of specialist officers to ensure the correct expertise is in place to manage and deliver high quality building safety programmes
- reviewed and introduced more extensive fire risk assessments for buildings to ensure they meet the highest possible standards
- allocated £20 million to deliver works to make sure our buildings are safer than ever before
- removed cladding from a number of blocks as a precaution
- commenced a programme of flat door replacements to improve safety standards
- installed new emergency lighting in a number of high-rise buildings and upgraded the signage in every building higher than 6 storeys
This year we will be:
- creating a building safety board which will heavily involve residents to help us produce new housing management service models, home standards for high rise buildings, a residents and landlord charter and a safety engagement strategy to be launched across all of our buildings
- communicating the findings of our most recent FRAs to residents living in blocks of 10 stories or more, extending this to residents living in flats of 6 stories or more by 2020
- finishing the major refurbishments of 7 high-rise buildings, with other smaller refurbishment projects being carried out in our remaining high-rise buildings
- piloting the installation of a sprinkler system at one of our older persons housing blocks and looking at how best to install similar systems to the remainder of these buildings
- installing communal smoke alarms and emergency lighting systems to flats in house conversions
- providing residents with a 'Building safety handbook', with advice about how to prevent fires from starting and what to do if there is an emergency
- providing training to Tenants and Resident Association (TRA) members on building safety and how to report matters of concern to the council
To find out about important information on housing in Enfield, you can sign-up to our council tenant and leaseholder digital newsletter.
Help us improve building safety
The Building Safety Act 2022, sets out how building owners must show they have effective measures in place to identify and manage safety risks. The act also allows residents in higher risk buildings to have a say in the management of their building, and raise concerns with the accountable person who will have a duty to listen to them.
The act requires that clear routes to resolve safety issues raised by residents are established. Residents should also have a chance to take part in decision making, as well as have access to key building safety information.
The act states that the resident engagement strategy must include details about:
- what information will be provided to residents and flat owners about decisions to do with the management of the building they live in
- what decisions residents will be consulted on
- information on how the methods for promoting participation will be measured and reviewed
The Building Safety Resident Engagement Strategy supports our Housing Resident Engagement Strategy 2021 to 2024, and outlines our approach to engaging with residents on building and fire safety in complex and higher-risk buildings.
The strategy also responds to the new regulatory regime required by the Building Safety and Fire Safety Acts, the charter for social housing residents, and our ambition to improve building safety.
Between November and December 2023, we carried out a telephone survey with residents living in 52 higher rise blocks across the borough. This is part of our commitment to make sure we understand how safe residents feel in their building and inside their home. Residents living in a selection of blocks were also invited to give their views online and in person at drop-in sessions at a selection of blocks.
We are also taking on board the views of the Customer Voice Building Safety Sub-Group. If you're an Enfield resident and interested in being a part of the sub-group, please email email@example.com.
If you're a resident and have a concern about your building and the safety of your home in the event of a fire, you can report this to the Building Safety Team, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our commitment to retrofitting sprinklers
Following the Grenfell fire in 2017, we made a commitment to review the feasibility of installing sprinkler systems into existing residential buildings to ensure residents' safety, and to ask the Government to fund this work.
Despite the lack of government funding available for sprinkler retrofit schemes, we have started our review and will be fitting sprinkler systems to a number of our buildings to enhance the existing layers of safety protection.
Some residents may have concerns about fitting the sprinklers into their home, so we are keen to work with residents to address these concerns. For sprinkler systems to be fully effective, we need to make sure they are installed in all homes.
Programme of work
We are carrying out several pilot building safety schemes this year (2019-2020), ahead of a wider building safety programme. This will focus on making sure safety standards in our high-rise buildings (over 18 metres or 6-storeys) and sheltered housing schemes are further improved over the next 3 years.
Brittany House sheltered block will be the first to receive a sprinkler system, followed by general needs blocks Bliss House, Purcell House and Walbrook House. Retrofitting of the remaining sheltered blocks will be starting in spring 2020. We are aiming to finish the pilot installations in summer 2020.
We will write to residents, starting in early 2020, and hold engagement sessions for them to review and feedback on the proposed works at their block. We will also hold a 'sprinkler drop-in session' with the London Fire Brigade, to answer resident's questions.
Once a contractor has been chosen, we will hold a 'meet the contractor' session to allow residents to view products and finishes.
A resident liaison officer will be available to support residents during the works.
The design of sprinkler systems will depend on the size and layout of individual flats. Pipework will be run around the perimeter of rooms (at the ceiling and wall junction) in most cases, not across the ceiling into the centre of the room as seen in shops and offices. It will be hidden behind prefinished white boxing and the sprinkler head covered by a white disc. Boxing will be installed on top of any existing decorations.
Contractors will protect floor finishes and furniture and help residents move their belongings before the system is installed. Residents will not need to move out of their home while the work is being carried out.
The installation should take 1 to 2 days to complete, depending on the size of the flat. We will visit to check the system once all flats are complete.
We will then visit your home every year to check and test the system.
How sprinklers work
Sprinklers are heat activated, so they will not go off if there is smoke in your home (from smoking or cooking) or steam from the shower.
If there is a fire, the following will happen:
- when the room temperature reaches about 67 degrees centigrade, the white cover disc will fall off, exposing the sprinkler head
- the small glass bulb in the head will break
- water will spray at a wide angle to either extinguish or control the fire
Not all sprinkler heads will go off at once. Only the sprinkler head(s) in the affected room will activate.
The British Sprinkler Alliance have produced a useful video on YouTube which explains how sprinklers work.
Accidental activation of sprinklers is very rare.
However, if this happens, we will repair any damage to the structure of the building and your insurance company should cover you for water damage to your personal belongings.
We advise all residents to purchase home contents insurance, as this will cover your belongings for theft, fire and water damage.
We offer our council tenants the chance to insure their home contents through the Crystal Insurance Scheme, which will cover contents if the sprinklers are activated. The cost of this insurance will not increase if the sprinklers are installed.
For more information, visit Crystal Insurance. If you have insurance with another provider, we advise you contact them directly.
Balcony fire safety
If your home has a private balcony, you should make sure it is kept clear of stored items and rubbish. This is to prevent a fire starting, and affecting your home and the rest of the building.
Remember fires kill, so do not:
- use barbecues on your balcony - they can set fire to the building or falling embers could set light to balconies below you
- store gas cylinders on your balcony - there is a risk they could explode
- drop cigarettes over the side of your balcony - they could cause a fire on a balcony below you
- store any items on your balcony that might catch fire. If a fire does break out on your balcony, there is a bigger risk of it spreading if there are items the fire can spread to.
We recommend you keep your balcony completely clear, but we understand that is not practical for everybody.
Take a look at your balcony now - is there anything you could remove to make it safer and reduce the risk of a fire starting.