London Fire Brigade (LFB) is responsible for improving awareness of fire safety
and for enforcing the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. You are responsible
for complying with this law and London Fire Brigade regularly prosecute those who
Regulatory Reform Order 2005
Am I responsible for fire safety?
Legislation called the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 imposes requirements and duties on a 'responsible person'. In a block of flats and maisonettes, the legally responsible person is the person/s having control of the property. It is not always clear who this person is. If you are in doubt about whether you are the responsible person, you should find out. You cannot afford not to know.
A responsible person is usually the freeholder or landlord, but may also be a residential management company or a right to manage company. However, responsibilities and duties imposed on the responsible person also apply to any other person having control of the property. This includes anyone who, under a tenancy or contract, has a responsibility for maintenance or repair of the property or for the safety of the property. This can include a wide number of people, who may include freeholders, landlords, managing agents and contractors who maintain fire safety measures and those who carry out fire risk assessments.
Individual owners or leaseholders can also be a responsible person. This could include
a leaseholder who lives in their own flat or a person who is sub-letting their property
to a tenant.
What are my responsibilities?
If you are a 'responsible person' you have a legal duty to keep your property safe
from fire through the provisions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
You have to ensure that there is a comprehensive fire risk assessment which details the fire safety provisions that are in the property. Make sure the tenants and any visitors are safe from fire. The fire risk assessment is usually carried out by a professional fire risk assessor. They might identify additional measures which should be considered and carried out as appropriate.
You should also have an emergency evacuation plan. This details the action that residents and others need to take if there is a fire. This plan must make sure residents and others are safe, that a fire can be detected and that the residents are warned of this event. They should be able to safely escape from the fire using the structural protection provided within the property.
You also have a responsibility to inform your tenants about the evacuation measures and the safe behaviours expected for your property.
If you are a leaseholder, living in your own flat or are sub-letting your flat to a tenant, your responsibilities are primarily for fire safety within the flat and for the integrity of the front door, as this protects the shared means of escape for the building.
The London Fire Brigade want you to know your responsibilities and fulfil them.
Please have a look through the information on this site and understand what your
responsibilities are. Get in touch with relevant parties for extra advice and use
the materials here to help you communicate with your
tenants about fire safety.
Make sure they know how to create a fire plan.
What is fire safety law?
The principal means of regulation and control for residential property, including
purpose-built blocks of flats and maisonettes, are the Housing Acts 1985 and 2004.
These Acts make housing authorities specifically responsible for keeping the condition
of all housing in their area, including their own housing stock, under review and
for checking all aspects of health and safety, including fire safety. The legal
duty on local housing authorities applies in respect of the whole building including
the private living accommodation (i.e. the individual flats).
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) relates to fire safety in what
are described as the common parts of residential property; typically these are entrance
halls, corridors, lobbies or landings, stairways, etc. It is enforced by local fire
authorities, like London Fire Brigade.
Housing Act 2004
Regulatory Reform Order 2005
Summary of the legislation
What is a good fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment helps you identify all the fire hazards and risks in your
property. You can then decide whether any risks identified are acceptable or whether
you need to do something to reduce or control them.
If you don't have the expertise to do a fire risk assessment yourself, you'll need
to appoint a 'competent person' to help, for example, a professional risk assessor. The
London Fire Brigade can't carry out risk assessments for you.
Fire Risk Assessment
Who can do a fire risk assessment?
What qualifications or experience
do they need?
The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council have produced 'A Guide to Choosing
a Competent Fire Risk Assessor'. The guide will help those with the responsibility
(referred to as 'duty holders' in this document) to decide who should carry out
a fire risk assessment so that the property complies with the relevant fire safety
legislation. Click the link below for more information.
A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor
What is in a fire evacuation strategy?
The first thing to do is a fire risk assessment and this will inform you of the
fire protection measures already in the building and any further measures required.
When you know this, you will be in a better position to set out what the fire evacuation
strategy should be. This is your 'emergency evacuation plan'. It should also include
details of what happens to the lifts, smoke ventilation, emergency escape lighting
and any installed fire alarms.
You need to ensure that your tenants know the escape routes for the building and,
if appropriate, to your property. They should understand about the 'stay put' principle, where tenants are advised to stay in their flat
if the fire is elsewhere, if appropriate.
The tenants should also have their own fire plan to know what to do in the event
of a fire in their own property.
Fire Risk Assessment
What is the 'stay put' principle?
A 'stay put' policy involves the following approach.
When a fire occurs within a flat, the occupants alert others in the flat, make their
way out of the building and call 999.
If a fire starts in the common parts or in another flat, all residents not directly
affected by the fire would be expected to 'stay put' and remain in their flat unless
directed to leave by the fire and rescue service.
Fire Safety in purpose-built flats
What is a good evacuation plan?
A good evacuation plan must show:
A clear passageway to all escape routes.
Clearly marked escape routes that are as short and direct as possible.
Enough exits and routes for all people to escape.
Emergency doors that open easily.
Details of what happens to the lifts, smoke ventilation, emergency escape lighting
and any installed fire alarms.
Communication arrangements for advising tenants, in advance, what to do in an emergency,
i.e. do they always evacuate or do they 'stay put' if their flat is not affected.
Communication arrangements with tenants so they know about, and how to use the
Arrangements for those tenants with mobility needs.
A safe meeting point away from the property for tenants.
What about arson risk and security?
You should have policies that are effective in helping to keep the common or shared
areas clear of storage and obstructions and anything that will burn. This includes
informing residents of the need to keep their common areas clear. Entrance doors
should be secure to prevent intruders entering and refuse should be disposed of
and not left laying around.
What is a purpose-built block?
Does this mean just high-rise blocks?
Purpose-built flats or maisonettes are designed and built as self-contained residential
units usually sharing common corridors, staircases and entrance. Purpose-built blocks
can be of any height, not just high-rise.
There is a code of practice on how purpose-built flats and maisonettes should be
built and managed, and the levels of fire precautions required.
If you are a 'responsible person', as part of the provisions for the Regulatory
Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, you have to ensure that there is a comprehensive
fire risk assessment for your property. A fire risk assessment helps you identify
all the fire hazards and risks in your property. You can then decide whether any
risks identified are acceptable or whether you need to do something to reduce or
The fire risk assessment is usually done by a professional fire risk assessor.
A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor
How do I create an evacuation plan?
Your fire risk assessment should inform you of the type of fire evacuation strategy
that would be best for your building. In most blocks of flats this is likely to
be a 'stay put' strategy, based on the information within the guide provided by
the LGA on fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats.
The additional detail on what needs to be included as part of the plan is below.
How do I get the message out?
It will depend on how you usually communicate with your tenants. You should seek
to communicate regularly. This website provides fire safety communication tools
which you can use, so please download and distribute them where suitable.
We consider that some, or all, of the following communication methods would be effective:
Use the toolkit we have provided on this site, with any correspondence, for your tenants.
Post information on noticeboards, in communal areas.
Provide information in 'introductory' packs.
Include articles in local magazines and publications.
Raise and discuss fire safety issues at any meetings with your tenants.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies as soon as a property is
occupied. Communicating with your tenants should also be an ongoing process and
the materials on this site can help you, so act now.
Do I have to communicate?
Good fire safety is dependent on people understanding what to do and how to find
information. You have a responsibility to provide information and to be ready to
answer questions about fire safety.
I plan to make changes ...
How do I make sure that the design of any
changes to my building are ok?
You should speak to the local authority about any planning requirements as they
are responsible for making sure that the changes you are intending to make meet
the legal requirements of the Building Act 1984 and the Building Regulations 2010.
The fire safety elements of this legislation are met by codes of practice, in these
cases, Approved Document B volume 2 which has five parts from B1 to B5 which encompasses
blocks of flats.
Building Act 1984
Buildings Regulations 2010
What about contractors' materials?
Building materials to be used in construction have to meet criteria laid down in
British and European Standards. The local authority building control officers, or
any approved inspector that is used to monitoring the work being completed, need to
ensure that these materials meet the approved standards and are applied in the correct
way, and are appropriate, for the work being done.
structural changes ...
What should I do?
You need to make sure that any work is allowed though the conditions and terms of
the leasing arrangements which you have with tenants. Any work undertaken needs
to be approved by the local authority through the building control process. The
Planning Portal, has details of the approaches needed for building work to be undertaken, www.planningportal.gov.uk.
You should ensure that the work being proposed does not affect the structural stability
of the premises and does not place people in danger in the event of a fire.
Tenants taking down
interior walls ...
What shall I do?
You need to ensure that the work has had approval from the local authority building
control office and ask for copies of that approval. If the work has not had approval
then you will need to ensure that:
Approval is or will be sought.
That the work undertaken has not impacted on the safety of the residents or any
That if approval is not forthcoming, then the walls are re-instated to ensure that
the structural arrangements for the safety of residents are in place.
That the work is allowed through the leasing arrangements you have.
I'm planning to repaint the building ...
What do I need to take
Where decorative paint, in common areas, is allowed to build up into multiple layers, this can allow very rapid fire spread as the paint splits and burns. The risk usually happens where there is poor paint adhesion or flaking paint. So you should make sure that, where necessary, paint is removed from surfaces and then new layers of paint applied. You may have to get a specialist company to carry out a risk assessment of the exisiting paint and provide a report into what actions should be taken to remove any paint layers or apply specialist coatings.
About multi-layer paints
A tenant is ignoring my rules ...
What can I do?
The lease arrangements that you have with tenants should detail accepted behaviours
for their own and others' safety. You will need to communicate with them and explain
how their behaviours are affecting the safety of themselves and others. You can
direct your tenants to their section of this website and
also use the poster and leaflet available in the download section to help promote
the messages and help them understand what they need to know about fire safety in
their home. For the most vulnerable groups, the London Fire Brigade can also assist
with one of its home fire safety visits. Call 08000 28 44 28 to book a visit.
Request a home fire safety visit
My tenant has been disconnected ...
If you know a tenant has been disconnected from the main electrical or gas supplies
in the building it is likely they will be using makeshift heating and lighting like candles and open fires. They may also have bypassed normal utility safety devices
to secure mains supplies.
In both cases, there will be a higher risk of fire, and thus a higher risk to themselves
and other residents. You could manage these situations by:
Advising on the risks to affected tenants and all other occupiers.
Arranging a home fire safety visit from the London Fire Brigade.
Ensuring smoke alarms are installed and working properly.
Providing basic fire safety advice on the risks of candles, open fires etc.
Provide portable firefighting equipment.
Advising on the legal implications of using fuel by illegal means.
Referring to relevant terms and conditions in the lease.
What about front doors for flats?
In a shared residential building, the front doors of individual flats are an important part of the fire protection for the building. This is sometimes referred to as 'structural fire safety'. Often, the front doors of individual flats perform a function as part of the protection for the routes used for escape from corridors and staircases in blocks of flats. These doors need to be fit for purpose, close fitting with no gaps, no warping and not damaged in any way.
Glazing and other openings within, or to the side of, these doors is also required to be fire resistant to the appropriate standard to ensure the safety of all residents. Any openings within the door, such as a letter box, should be fitted with intumescent materials (materials that swell) to protect the opening and any door fittings should be built-in correctly.
If you don't comply with the law, your tenants could die and you could be prosecuted
and go to prison. London Fire Brigade visits and inspects a range of properties.
If we discover problems that could make your property unsafe, we will take action
to make sure that you solve these problems. This ranges from low level enforcement
to prosecution. If you don't comply, it could mean a hefty fine, your reputation
being ruined, possible loss of life and a prison sentence for you.
There are firefighters at my building ...
Does this always mean
there is a fire?
No. There are many reasons why firefighters could be at your building. They could
Dealing with an incident:
Firefighters may be attending an incident at your building.
Carrying out a familiarisation visit:
Firefighters visit properties throughout London so they can learn the layout of
Carrying out a home fire safety visit:
Firefighters visit people in their homes to offer advice on how to make their homes
safe and, where appropriate, fit a smoke alarm for free.
Carrying out a regulatory fire safety inspection:
Each borough in London has a team responsible for making sure that buildings comply
with fire safety legislation (Regulatory Reform [Fire Safety] Order 2005).
Checking fire hydrants:
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) use fire hydrants to provide a supply of water in
all areas. They are located in public footways or highways and are owned, installed
and maintained by London's four water companies, who fit them to their water mains,
to provide the water supply needed. London Fire Brigade run an annual hydrant inspection
programme to check that all of London's hydrants are in a good state of repair,
so you may see one of our firefighters in your area or building carrying out an
What you should do if you see a defective hydrant?
Hydrant defects relating to leakage or safety should be reported to the local water
Any other defects or queries including missing hydrant marker plates can be reported
to the LFB's Water Team. They can be contacted:
By post at London Fire Brigade Headquarters, 169 Union Street,
London, SE1 0LL By email at firstname.lastname@example.org By phone during normal office hours Mon-Fri on 0208 555 1200, extensions
31553 or 31105.
This website should give you a good starting point. By using the posters and
other materials we have made available on this website, you should be one
step closer to making sure you've acted responsibly as a landlord.
There is a lot of information available on the London Fire Brigade website. For
answers to your questions on the law click here.
There are also many ways you can get help and advice on fire safety for your building.
London Fire Brigade can help advise you on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
2005 and where else you can get help. This website should give you a good starting
point and by using the posters and other materials we have made available in the
download section, you should be one step closer to making sure you've acted responsibly
as a landlord.