National Fire Safety Week 2021 is an initiative from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government designed to highlight fire safety particularly in homes.
The responsibility in respect of fire safety in rented dwellings was not conferred on to landlords until the introduction of the Housing Regulations (2008), despite the first iteration of these Regulations being in effect since 1993. Additionally, landlords must be familiar with their obligations under Fire Services Act 1981 that refer to the “person having control” of premises in terms of fire safety, to ensure safeguards are in place and safety measures followed to protect those occupying and enjoying use of the premises.
The current Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 provide guidance on the delivery of fire safety measures in private rented dwellings.
In a rented house, a landlord is responsible for ensuring the property contains a working smoke alarm in the ground floor hallway and each upper floor landing of a stairway and a fire blanket securely wall-mounted in the kitchen. The smoke alarms can be either mains wired with a battery back-up or long-life battery units.
In a rented apartment, a landlord is responsible for ensuring the property contains an emergency evacuation plan permanently positioned inside the front door together with a sounder, suitably located and working mains smoke and heat alarms and a fire blanket securely wall-mounted in the kitchen. The emergency evacuation plan plan should have a floor plan showing exits and location of fire equipment the exact address of the apartment, relevant contact phone numbers, and the actions to be taken in the event of an emergency.
Overall responsibility to prevent occurence of fires in apartment blocks lies with the Building Owner or its Management Company, where one is employed, to carry out fire safety management. In the common areas of an apartment complex there should be a common fire detection and alarms system, manual fire alarm call point at each floor level with emergency lighting throughout.
Despite legislative, regulatory and practical efforts by the legislature, complying with Regulation 10 Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 remains an area of confusion and concern amongst landlords. The confusion on the part of property owners coupled with persistently high rates of properties contravening the standards, it seems not enough has been done yet to sufficiently highlight to landlords what their responsibilities are.
Inspex supports National Fire Safety Week 2021, raising awareness about the fact that most people who die in fires, die from smoke inhalation and not from burns and it can take as little as 3 minutes to die from smoke inhalation.