Action in the Event of Fire FIRE SAFETY ADVICE

At Accent, we take the safety of our residents very seriously.

We have a team of dedicated Fire and Safety Assessors, who are continually working to keep customers safe in their homes.

The fire and safety team can be contacted by email at: FireandSafetyTeam@AccentGroup.org

If you have only just moved into your home, or haven’t had a FREE home fire safety check undertaken by the fire service, contact your local fire and rescue service to see if they can come and visit you. Alternatively, why not complete your own home fire safety check. Our fire and safety team can assist you with this.


Wherever you live, if you discover a fire in your home or your smoke alarm goes off: 

  • Do not tackle the fire yourself. Leave it to the professionals.
  • If the door is closed to the room where the fire is, do not open it.
  • Tell everyone within your home to leave immediately by the nearest exit and close the door behind you. Before you open a door check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it – fire is on the other side.
  • If there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer.
  • Everyone should assemble in a safe place, well away from any danger and where someone can meet the fire and rescue service
  • Dial 999 and ask for the fire service, giving your full address and postcode

Watch our short video about what to do if a fire starts in your own home.

  • If you can’t get out, get everyone into one room, ideally with a window and a phone.
  • Put bedding around the bottom of the door to block out the smoke.
  • Call 999 then open the window and shout “HELP FIRE”.
  • If you’re on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through a window.
  • Use bedding to cushion your fall and lower yourself down carefully. Don’t jump.
  • If you can’t open the window break the glass in the bottom corner. Make jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket.
  • Don’t run around, you’ll make the flames worse.
  • Lie down and roll around. It makes it harder for the fire to spread.
  • Smother the flames with a heavy material, like a coat or blanket.
  • Remember, Stop, Drop and Roll!

Keeping you safe

Reduce the risk of harm

There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of harm from fire:  

  • Think about your escape plan, so that you know what to do if the smoke alarm goes off during the night. If you live with other people in your home, sit down and discuss this together so that you all have a clear plan. You may wish to write this down and practice it from time to time
  • Keep your doors closed to stop the spread of smoke and fire. It is ideal if you do this all the time, but you should always close all doors before going to bed
  • Make sure your escape routes are clear and free from obstacles 
  • Check your home before you go to bed. Make sure all fires are fully extinguished and electric or gas appliances are switched off and unplugged where possible. Empty ashtrays outdoors and close all doors 

Blocks of flats

If you live in a purpose-built block of flats, to reduce the risk of fire spreading the walls, doors and floors are all sturdily built and designed to stop fire and smoke spreading. This is known as compartmentation and each flat becomes its own fire-resistant box. We undertake periodic checks of the compartmentation and implement a risk-based programme of Fire Risk Assessments at all blocks of flats, ranging from annual to 3-yearly. This includes both purpose-built and those flats that have been converted.

In blocks of flats FIVE storeys or more in height, we also inspect all communal fire-resisting doors every three months and use ‘best endeavours’ to inspect all fire-resisting flat front doors annually. If you are at home when the Fire and Safety Assessor calls, please allow them access to check the safety of your front door.

In blocks that are SEVEN storeys or more, we provide additional safety features and enhanced inspection and maintenance regimes. This includes:

  • A secure box containing information for the fire and rescue service:
    • The name and address of the person with Accent responsible for fire safety
    • Contact details of others who can provide assistance to firefighters
    • Floor plans showing key fire-fighting equipment, access, fire alarms etc
  • Wayfinding signage to allow firefighters to quickly identify the location of flat numbers
  • Enhanced inspection and maintenance regime of key fire-fighting equipment

Key fire-fighting equipment includes:

  • inlets for dry-rising mains
  • inlets for wet-rising mains
  • outlets for dry-rising mains
  • outlets for wet-rising mains
  • smoke control systems
  • suppression systems such as sprinklers or water misting systems

We also need to provide to the local fire and rescue service details of the external wall construction. All Accent blocks over seven storeys in height that had older cladding have had this removed and replaced with fire-resisting cladding that conforms to modern standards. Additionally, all of our new-builds conform to this standard, introduced in 2019.

During 2023 an enhanced regime introduced under the Building Safety Act 2022, will also apply to blocks over 18m or seven storeys in height. We will be required to register these buildings with a new Building Safety Regulator and comply with a number of additional requirements specific to building safety risks, particularly customer engagement and complaint handling. Building safety risks are those arising from the spread of fire or structural failure.

If your block of flats has been designed so that each flat is a fire-resisting box, as described above, then only in very exceptional circumstances will a fire in one flat affect another. In these circumstances the safest place for you when there is a fire in another flat, is for you to stay in your own home. This is known as a ‘Stay Put’ procedure and allows the fire and rescue service to safely fight a fire without having corridors and stairs blocked by other residents evacuating.

Where a stay put procedure is in place, there will be smoke alarms in your flat, but it is likely that there is not a fire alarm in the communal area as one isn’t needed.

If your flat has been converted or is built to old standards, then a ‘Full Evacuation’ procedure will be in place. This means that in the event of a fire in one flat, all flats in the block should evacuate the building to a place of safety. To allow for this there will be a fire alarm throughout the building, including in common areas such as staircases and corridors.

 If you discover a fire in your own flat:

  • Do not attempt to tackle the fire
  • If the door is closed to the room where the fire is, do not open it
  • Tell everyone within your home to leave immediately ensure the door has closed behind you
  • Once out of your flat, if it is safe to do so, call 999 and report the fire, giving the address, your flat number and postcode. If it is not safe to do so, leave this until you are outside the building
  • Leave the building by the nearest emergency exit route and stairs. Remember, this might not be the way that you normally use
  • Do not run or use a lift if one is provided
  • Everyone should assemble in a safe place, well away from any danger and where someone can meet the fire and rescue service
  • Do not return your flat until you have been told it is safe by the Fire Service  

If your block has a STAY PUT procedure and you suspect a fire somewhere else within the block: 

  • If you are in your flat and feel safe, stay put.
  • If you feel unsafe or are in a common area away from your flat, leave the building by the nearest emergency exit route. Remember, this might not be the way that you normally use.
  • Do not run or use a lift if one is provided
  • Call 999 and report the fire, giving the address and postcode and as much information as you know.
  • If you need to be evacuated, you will be notified by the fire and rescue service or others dealing with the incident. This may be via an evacuation alarm if installed
  • If you have evacuated your flat, do not re-enter it until told it is safe to do so by the fire service or other person in authority

Only evacuate the building if:

  • You are told to do so by the Fire Service or others dealing with the incident. This may be via an evacuation alarm if installed
  • You feel unsafe
  • Your home is affected by heat or smoke
  • The fire alarm or evacuation alarm sounds throughout the building

If you are asked to evacuate, you should: 

  • If you need to be evacuated, you will be notified by the fire and rescue service or others dealing with the incident. This may be via an evacuation alarm if installed and you may be escorted out of the building
  • If you are not escorted, leave the building by the nearest emergency exit route and stairs. Remember, this might not be the way that you normally use
  • Do not run or use a lift if one is provided
  • Let the Fire Service know immediately if someone has not been able to leave your flat 
  • Follow further instructions from the fire service or those dealing with the incident
  • If you have evacuated your flat, do not re-enter it until told it is safe to do so by the fire service or other person in authority

If your block has a FULL EVACUATION procedure and you suspect a fire somewhere else within the block or the fire alarm begins to sound

  • Leave the building by the nearest emergency exit route using the stairs.
  • Do not run or use a lift if one is provided
  • Let the Fire Service know immediately if someone has not been able to leave your flat 
  • Follow further instructions from the fire service or those dealing with the incident

Independent Living and Extra Care Schemes

If you live in an Independent Living or Extra Care Scheme, to reduce the risk of fire spreading the walls, doors and floors are all sturdily built and designed to stop fire and smoke spreading. This is known as compartmentation and each dwelling becomes its own fire-resistant box. We undertake periodic checks of the compartmentation and undertake yearly Fire Risk Assessments at all Independent Living or Extra Care Schemes.

You will have fire detectors (smoke and/or heat) within your flat linked to the alarm call system and there will also be a separate fire alarm system in the common areas, linked to its own fire panel.

Evacuation procedures in Independent Living and Extra Care Schemes

Your scheme has been designed so that each flat or dwelling is a fire-resisting box, as described above, meaning that only in very exceptional circumstances will a fire in one dwelling affect another. In these circumstances the safest place for you when there is a fire in another flat or dwelling, is for you to stay in your own home. This is known as a ‘Stay Put’ procedure and allows the fire and rescue service to safely fight a fire without having corridors and stairs blocked by other residents evacuating.

If a fire occurs in a common area, such as a lounge or laundry etc, the communal fire alarm will activate and anyone in common areas should evacuate the building to a place of safety, known as the assembly point. Anyone within their own flat or dwelling is safest staying there and for this reason they may not hear the communal fire alarm from within their own home.

 If you discover a fire in your own Independent Living or Extra Care flat or dwelling:

  • Do not attempt to tackle the fire
  • If the door is closed to the room where the fire is, do not open it
  • Tell everyone within your home to leave immediately ensure the door has closed behind you
  • Once out of your flat, if it is safe to do so, call 999 and report the fire, giving the address, your flat number and postcode. If it is not safe to do so, leave this until you are outside the building
  • Leave the building by the nearest emergency exit route and stairs. Remember, this might not be the way that you normally use
  • Do not run or use a lift if one is provided
  • Everyone should assemble in a safe place, well away from any danger and where someone can meet the fire and rescue service
  • Do not return your flat or dwelling until you have been told it is safe by the Fire Service  

If you suspect a fire somewhere else within the scheme: 

  • If you are in your flat and feel safe, stay put.
  • If you feel unsafe or are in a common area away from your flat or dwelling, leave the building by the nearest emergency exit route. Remember, this might not be the way that you normally use.
  • Do not run or use a lift if one is provided
  • Call 999 and report the fire, giving the address and postcode and as much information as you know.
  • If you need to be evacuated, you will be notified by the fire and rescue service or others dealing with the incident. This may be via an evacuation alarm if installed
  • If you have evacuated your flat, do not re-enter it until told it is safe to do so by the fire service or other person in authority

Only evacuate the building if:

  • You are told to do so by the Fire Service or others dealing with the incident. This may be via an evacuation alarm if installed
  • You feel unsafe
  • Your home is affected by heat or smoke

If you are asked to evacuate, you should: 

  • If you need to be evacuated, you will be notified by the fire and rescue service or others dealing with the incident. This may be via an evacuation alarm if installed and you may be escorted out of the building
  • If you are not escorted, leave the building by the nearest emergency exit route and stairs. Remember, this might not be the way that you normally use
  • Do not run or use a lift if one is provided
  • Let the Fire Service know immediately if someone has not been able to leave your flat or dwelling
  • Follow further instructions from the fire service or those dealing with the incident
  • If you have evacuated your flat, do not re-enter it until told it is safe to do so by the fire service or other person in authority

Evacuation procedures

All fire procedures relevant to your block or scheme are displayed on prominent posters within common areas and will shortly be available on the MyAccount portal.

Scroll down to find the appropriate evacuation procedure for your block or scheme. First select the region in which you live and then find your block, Independent Living or Extra Care Scheme

Cladding

In late 2018 the Government changed building regulations to ban the use of combustible materials in the external walls of buildings over 18m in height. They introduced a requirement that all materials in new high-rise buildings must achieve an A1 or A2 rating under European classifications.

In our high-rise buildings constructed prior to 2018 we have removed all cladding and replaced it with materials meeting the new standard. Additionally, we have ensured any buildings built after this date have complied with the building regulations.

In our mid-rise blocks lower than 18m in height, we undertake an annual fire risk assessment which includes the risk of fire spread across external walls. We ensure that all our fire risk assessors are highly competent, but assessment of external wall materials can be complex. Where our assessors are in any doubt, we engage a specialist assessor to undertake what is termed a fire risk appraisal of the external wall construction and in accordance with Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 9980.

Fire doors

To a certain extent all closed doors will hold back smoke, flames and heat from a fire should one occur. This will provide you with the time needed to escape from the premises. Fire doors, or more accurately fire-resisting or fire-rated doors, are specifically designed, manufactured, and tested to be able to withstand a fire for a certain amount of time – usually 30 minutes. They should not be confused with fire exit doors, which are the doors designed to allow you to exit from a building and which often are fitted with push bolts or push pads.

Fire doors may be found in common areas, such as across corridors or on staircases, or as flat front doors. They can be recognised as they:

  • Will be at least 44mm (13/4 inches) thick
  • Will have a seal fitted round either the edge of the door or in the frame
  • Will be fitted with a self-closing device, unless it is a cupboard door etc
  • Will have at least three hinges and a positive latching mechanism
  • If it is a cupboard door, will be fitted with a notice advising it be kept locked shut
  • If it has any glazing this will be fire resisting

You can help us to keep you safe - never:

  • Remove, disengage, or tamper with self-closing devices
  • Prop or wedge fire doors open
  • Damage fire doors or try to repair or fit them yourself
  • Drill or cut into your flat entrance door or alter or repair it yourself
  • Allow others, including visitors etc, to damage or tamper with fire doors

Please report any faulty or damaged fire doors or self-closing devices to us immediately: FireandSafetyTeam@AccentGroup.org

If you live in a block that is five storeys or more, we are required by law to check your flat front door. If you are at home when the fire and safety assessor calls, please allow them access to check your door.

Get in touch

There are a number of Accent colleagues available to help you with fire safety. In the first instance contact your Customer Partner, Home Ownership Specialist or Scheme Manager.

For the more technical questions, there is a fire and safety assessor in each region who can assist and can be emailed at: FireandSafetyTeam@AccentGroup.org

As a business, we have a senior executive who acts on behalf of our Chief Executive and has overall accountability as our ‘Responsible Person’ under fire safety legislation and our ‘Accountable Person’ under building safety legislation. This is our Chief Operating Officer Julie Wittich.

To assist Julie in the day-to-day delivery of fire and building safety, we have a Building Safety Manager, Nick Isherwood. If you wish to raise serious concerns with either Nick or Julie, please email: BuildingSafety@AccentGroup.org

Day-to-day and emergency repairs should still always be reported to the Technical Hub by calling 0345 678 0555, option 1. If you wish to speak to our Customer Service Team, it’s option 2.


Evacuation procedure where you live


How to prevent common fires

  • Take extra care if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking, take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk.
  • Avoid cooking when under the influence of alcohol.
  • Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and sauce pan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.
  • Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove.
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – they can easily catch fire.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
  • Spark devices are safer than matches or lighters to light gas cookers, because they don’t have a naked flame.
  • Double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking
  • Take care with electrics
  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water.
  • Don’t put anything metal in the microwave.
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order. A build up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.
  • Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily.
  • Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash.
  • If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.
  • Use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer. They can’t overheat.
  • Don’t take any risks.
  • Never throw water over it, this will cause it to explode into a fireball
  • Turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so.
  • Do not move the pan.
  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself, leave the room, close the door, warn anyone else in your home and call 999 for the fire service.
  • Always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating.
  • Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it.
  • Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high powered.
  • Try and keep to one plug per socket.
  • When charging electrical goods, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and look for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European safety standards.
  • An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload them to reduce the risk of a fire.
  • Appliances use different amounts of power – a television may use a 3amp plug and a vacuum cleaner a 5amp plug for example. Know the limit!
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order to prevent them triggering a fire.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons, or flickering lights.
  • Check and replace any old cables and leads, especially if they are hidden from view - behind furniture or under carpets and mats.
  • Unplugging appliances helps reduce the risk of fire.
  • Unplug appliances when you’re not using them or when you go to bed.
  • Always ensure that your furniture meets the fire safety cigarette and match standards and has the flame-resistant labels.
  • Try to secure heaters up against a wall to stop them falling over.
  • Keep them clear from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
  • Store electric blankets flat, or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring.
  • Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use.
  • Try not to buy second hand blankets and check regularly for wear and tear.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully. Put them out. Right out!
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Smoke outdoors and put cigarettes right out - this is safer than smoking indoors.
  • Use a proper ashtray – never a wastepaper basket.
  • Make sure your ashtray can’t tip over and is made of a material that won’t burn.
  • Don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around. They can easily fall over and start a fire.
  • The best way to reduce the risk is to make an attempt to quit, using NHS support if you need it. If you do not want to quit, consider vaping.
  • Take extra care if you smoke when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs, or if you’ve been drinking. You might fall asleep and set your bed or sofa on fire.
  • Unplug e-cigarettes when fully charged and ensure you are using the correct charger.
  • Never smoke illegally manufactured cigarettes.
  • Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains.
  • Put candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re put out completely at night.
  • Children shouldn’t be left alone with lit candles.
  • Consider using LED or battery-operated candles.
  • Keep pets away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
  • Only buy child resistant lighters and match boxes.

What would you do if your smoke alarm went off during the night? This section will help you make a plan ready for an emergency.

  • Plan an escape route and make sure everyone knows how to escape.
  • Make sure exits are kept clear.
  • The best route is the normal way in and out of your home.
  • Think of a second route in case the first one is blocked.
  • Take a few minutes to practise your escape plan.
  • Review your plan if the layout of your home changes.
  • Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.

You are more at risk from a fire when asleep, so it’s a good idea to check your home before you go to bed.

  • Close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading.
  • Turn off and unplug electrical appliances unless they are designed to be left on – like your freezer.
  • Check your cooker is turned off.
  • Don’t run appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers overnight.
  • Turn heaters off and put up fireguards.
  • Put candles and cigarettes out properly.
  • Make sure exits are kept clear.
  • Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.
  • In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999.

Fire - the facts

You are around

View more information
8 times more likely to die

in a fire if you do not have a working smoke alarm in your home

View more information
Once a month

you should test your smoke alarms by pressing the test button

4,000 fires a year

are caused by faulty electrics such as appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets

1/2 of home fires

are caused by cooking accidents

2 fires a day

are started by candles

3 fires a day

are started by heaters

Every 6 days someone dies

from a fire caused by a cigarette

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