West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is releasing a new video to encourage student landlords to make sure their premises are fire safe before thousands of young people arrive in West Yorkshire to start university life.
Chris Kemp, Fire Protection Manager, explains in the video that student accommodation comes in many different shapes and forms, from high rise buildings to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Some buildings are managed by housing agents whilst others are under the management of private landlords or estate agents who need to know their responsibilities and prepare and maintain their buildings correctly.
Mr Kemp said: “It is impossible for us to summarise all fire safety regulation for student accommodation in a nutshell, however there are common themes which are covered such as smoke alarms, escape routes and keeping fire exits clear and the requirement for fire doors in some properties.
“The Government has created guides for landlords in the private rented sector which can be found here
“In 2015 the law changed making it obligatory that landlords install working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms upon the start of any new tenancy agreement so it’s really important that not just student landlords, but any landlord of a private residential letting, comply with this requirement.
“Some student accommodation blocks have automated smoke alarm systems and their management is slightly different.”
The best means of preventing fire is to stop it breaking out in the first place. Whilst we understand it’s not always the first thing students want to think about when they arrive for Freshers Week, we always encourage landlords and indeed universities to talk to young people about fire prevention.
Area Manager for Fire Safety Chris Kirby said: “Student accommodation can have a bit of a reputation for being a bit messy and this can lead to fire hazards so we do encourage landlords to discuss fire safety with their tenants as things like a build-up of rubbish can lead to fire escape routes becoming blocked.
“Cooking accidents are a regular cause of fires in the home and students who are fending for themselves for the first time do need to be vigilant in the kitchen. If you have been drinking, this may increase the likelihood that you will leave cooking unattended and fires can easily start, especially if you are frying food.
“We all know that students also come laden with tech but electrical fire safety is something they should consider – things like not leaving laptops on soft furniture, ensuring hair straighteners are not left on and not overloading plug sockets.
“We encourage students themselves to watch our video, equip themselves with the knowledge of the fire safety measures – such as fire escape routes and evacuation plan – in their build and of course enjoy their time at university!”
The Fire Service has created a Freshers Fire Safety video which we hope landlords and universities will show to their students.
Cooking – Never leave your cooking unattended. The time it takes to leave the kitchen to make a phone call or send an email could result in devastating consequences if you leave a pan unattended, especially if you are cooking with lots of oil or using grill pans that have not been cleaned.
If you have been out and had a few drinks, it’s always safer to buy a takeaway than start cooking food.
Keep the surfaces around the cooker clear and free from materials that could catch fire such as clothing, paper or tea towels
Smoking – Our advice is to give up this unhealthy habit, but if you must smoke it’s better to go outside. Make sure you have proper ashtrays which you empty into outside bins. Always stub cigarettes out properly.
Don’t ever smoke in bed.
Electrics – Electrical appliances can also cause fires. Hair dryers and straighteners can sometimes be left on and if they are left lying on the carpet or on your bed, they could easily cause a fire so make sure they are used on a hard surface and turned off at the plug when not in use.
Laptops can also generate a lot of heat, especially if they are left on your bed because the vents are usually underneath and they get blocked. So always use laptops on a flat, hard surface.
Overloading plug sockets – Having lots of your electrical equipment plugged in at one socket is also potentially dangerous. Use extension cables rather than double adaptors and spread the demand around the plugs within the room.
Rubbish disposal – It is your responsibility to ensure that your wheelie bin is put out for collection on the correct day and brought in again once it has been emptied. Wheelie bins left out are regularly set on fire deliberately causing risk to your home and those around you.
Take care around open water – Every year the Fire Service is called out to rescue people from the water, such as the River Aire running through Leeds City Centre, after they have accidentally fallen in.