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Fire safety advice for flats and maisonettes

Fire safety advice for flats and maisonettes

UPDATED 9 August 2017

We are working closely with local authorities, housing associations, landlords and other groups following the Grenfell Tower fire.

We have reviewed data held by the Service about residential high rise properties in our area, checking local sources for additional information.

While there are no reports of cladding similar to that in the London tragedy on residential high rise in our area, we have carried out a programme of joint visits and inspections in partnership with the local authorities.

We have prioritised residential high rise buildings which we believe have been renovated in the last ten years. We have inspected these in order to update our records and provide any necessary reassurance to residents. Where possible the landlord or responsible person was present for the visit. All other high rise blocks are being considered for inspection on a case by case basis.

Should any buildings be discovered with this type of cladding in the future then a full evaluation of the situation will be undertaken with the landlord and appropriate remedial measures taken.

We have also been liaising with local health managers to offer advice in how they can meet their legal responsibilities with regards to fire safety. We have a clear picture of any precautionary actions we need to take working alongside the NHS bodies who are responsible for fire safety in their buildings.

We provide advice about fire safety measures which can include compartmentation of the building, automatic fire detection, fire alarms, means of escape and sprinkler systems. 

In recent years we have invested in co-funding sprinkler schemes in East Sussex and Brighton as part of our commitment to fire safety.

Our advice

There are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family in your home:
  • We encourage people to take preventative measures and to do a bedtime check.
  • Make sure you check the cooker is turned off and turn off and unplug electrical appliances.
  • Put candles and cigarettes out properly, ensuring there are no embers still burning.
  • Please turn heaters off and put up fireguards if needed.
  • Exits should be kept clear and you should close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading.

Read our booklet for residents of high rise residential buildings.

Smoke alarms

If you don’t already have them, please get yourself a smoke alarm for every level of your home. They will give you an early warning of a fire, enabling you to get to safety and call the emergency services.

There are specialist alarms available for anyone who cannot hear the standard alarms. These include lights and vibrating pads which can go under pillows.

We carry out Home Safety Visits where we can give you or someone you know advice and help – call 0800 177 7069 for more information.

If there is a fire

High-rise flats are designed to contain fires within a flat or compartment whilst communal corridors and stairs provide escape routes based on occupancy and height of the building. 

  • If there is a fire inside your flat or maisonette our advice is to alert all the people in your flat and leave, closing your doors behind you. You should follow your escape plan and if there is lots of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air should be clearer.
  • Always use the stairs rather than the lift and call 999 as soon as you are in a safe place.
  • If there is a fire elsewhere in the building then the structure of your flat – walls, floors, doors – are designed to give you a minimum of 30-60 minutes’ protection from a fire.   
  • If there is a fire in your building but not inside your own home, then you are usually safer to stay in your flat unless the heat or smoke from the fire is affecting you. If you stay put you should still immediately call 999.   
  • It is important to remember that this advice may change and you should follow the instructions of firefighters when they arrive on scene.


Whilst the investigations are ongoing, it is considered that external cladding was a factor in the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. Further information can be found on the website for the National Fire Chiefs Council.

Fridge freezers

If you have a white Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP or graphite fridge freezer model number FF175BG, you should register your appliance with the manufacturer to receive any updates. Generally, the model number is found on a bar code on a sticker behind the salad container in the fridge.

You can ring 0800 316 3826 or visit: https://www.hotpointservice.co.uk/fridgefreezer

If you would like general advice around electrical safety, please go to: http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Find out more about:

Landlords and Local Authorities

The Housing Acts 1985 and 2004 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.

We have made an audit tool available to help councils check that proper fire precautions are in place when blocks of flats are refurbished. Housing providers are legally responsible for making fire risk assessments. 

Read the audit tool.

We have also shared two guides for Councillors to explain what they should look out for during estate visits, and questions they should put to housing managers and wardens. 

Councillor guide on fire safety for use during council meetings
Councillor guide on fire safety for use during estates visits

You may also find it useful to refer to these risk assessment guides.

Useful links to external sites


Latest Update :
19 October 2017
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