Keeping your home and neighbourhood safe

Resident responsibilities

We all play a part in staying safe. On this page, you can find advice and guidance on what you can do as our resident to help with fire safety. 

Fires are almost always an accident and can be prevented. If the worst should happen, you need a working fire alarm and a safe exit route.

For an overview on what we do to help keep you safe, click below:

Our responsibilities

Keeping your home safe

  • When you go to bed, make sure you’ve closed all internal doors

  • Take care in the kitchen – most fires start here, so never leave your cooking unattended and take extra care with hot oil

  • Never leave lit candles unattended

  • Make sure cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of carefully. Never smoke in bed

  • Don’t overload electrical sockets

Further guidance on your responsibilities

Advice from our residents

Here’s some of our Bethnal Green residents sharing their advice on how everyone can help with fire safety in their community.

  • Keep communal areas clear; don't leave pushchairs or bikes in spaces like hallways or stairwells. 
  • Don't throw cigarette butts of your balcony
  • Take pride in where you live

Please report items left out in communal areas to our customer service team. 

Home contents insurance

Home Contents Insurance covers the cost of replacing or repairing your possessions if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen. It includes items such as your furniture, clothing, or computer electronics. In the event of a fire, contents insurance would cover the cost of replacing or repairing these items. Find out more by clicking below. 

Further information

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan

If you or anyone in your household might need assistance in the event of a fire, we kindly ask you to fill out our contact form. A team member will reach out to you to have a friendly chat about the support you might require and to create a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) to keep you safe in case of a fire.

Let us know if you need support 

Further guidance

Keep communal areas clear

The communal areas in your building, like hallways and stairwells, serve as evacuation routes in the event of a fire. Clutter and obstructions in these areas, like personal items or rubbish, can hinder a resident’s ability to exit the building quickly and safely. Additionally, the London Fire Brigade need clear access into buildings to fight the fire. Clear pathways make it easier for them to navigate the building, locate the source of the fire, and help those in need.

These areas should also be kept clear as certain items can serve as fuel for a fire. Items can help fires to spread quicker and intensify. By keeping these areas clear, the potential for the fire to spread is minimized. 

  • Don’t leave or dump rubbish or furniture in communal areas
  • Items in corridors should not cause an obstruction or hazard and must be made of materials that would not readily burn
  • Avoid smoking or stubbing cigarettes in communal areas, or throwing them off the balcony
  • Don’t dispose of flammable liquids in bin areas 

Please report items left out in communal areas to our customer service team. 

Report items

Fire door safety

What do fire doors do, and how do they work?

Did you know that the front door to your home and any doors along corridors and stairs are fire doors? Fire doors fulfil a life-saving role in preventing the spread of smoke and fire for a period dependent on their fire classification. Fire Doors help keep the levels of smoke and toxic gasses contained within the room of origin and prevent fire from moving into escape routes long enough to allow people to escape and for the fire and rescue services to gain access.

Fire doors will prevent fire moving into escape routes, and from one room to another. Most fire doors, when installed and used properly, will hold back a fire for 30 minutes or more, by which time the Fire & Rescue service would aim to be on site. For this to work, fire doors must be kept closed.

Is it ever ok to leave fire doors open?

A fire door, in the event of a fire, will only work if the door is closed. Fire doors are often wedged open, perhaps to help with a busy flow of people, or to keep air flowing in hot weather. But whatever the reason, fire doors should not be left open. Wedging open fire doors can, and has, caused fire to spread rapidly, destroying entire buildings and decreasing the time people have to evacuate safely.

In the event of a fire, if it was found that a fire door was wedged open, it could have serious legal implications including fines, and reduce the likelihood of a successful insurance claim to cover the loss of possessions or damages to property.

If it is necessary to prop or wedge open a fire door for the purpose of moving equipment for a short duration; the prop or wedge must immediately be removed on completion of the task in hand; an open fire door must never be left unattended. Next time you see a fire door wedged open; stop, think, and act. Close the door.

Fire safety and your balcony

Keeping your balcony safe

Balconies are a great place to relax, but it’s really important to think about the safety of yourself and others – even though it's an outside space, there can still be a fire risk.

To keep you and your neighbours safe, we’ve put together some important guidelines on using your balcony safely. 

The main things to remember if you have a balcony are: 

  • Never keep anything flammable on your balcony
  • Make sure you’re not storing anything that could restrict your exit in case of a fire
  • Never hang clothing, rugs or mats over the balcony railings
  • Remember not to screen your balcony with bamboo or straw type matting
  • Always put cigarettes out and dispose of them properly

 

Examples of items you should never keep on your balcony include:

  • BBQs, fire pits or chimeneas 
  • Patio heaters or gas canisters
  • Wooden or paper items 
  • Bags of rubbish 
  • Cooking oil, cooking equipment or oil cans
  • Any electrical items like fridges, freezers or tumble dryers
  • Bikes, prams or pushchairs 

 

But remember you can keep: 

  • A small window box 
  • Pot plants in non-combustible pots up to 12 inches in diameter
  • A low level clothes airer (as long as it’s lower than the railings) 
  • A small table and chairs or one that folds away (remember the number of chairs you have shouldn’t be more than the number of people that live in your home)

 

Smoking and balcony safety

A recent research report shows that most fires on balconies are caused by behaviours that are avoidable, in particular, carelessness around smoking.

The numbers

  • Of the 310 fires beginning on balconies, 182 were related to smoking
  • Balcony fires are increasing - 30 of the 45 fire services around the UK saw a year-on-year increase in the number of balcony fires that occurred in their area
  • 29 of the 45 saw at least one fire on a balcony related to smoking materials, such as carelessly discarded cigarettes

To read the report:

Balcony Fires of Great Britain Report 2021-2022

 

Support

Your safety is our priority. If you have any concerns about your balcony and fire safety, get in touch with us. 

Get in touch

Fire safety and pest control

Did you know that the gas from professional pest control products can be poisonous and lead to explosions and fires when not used properly?

These products have caused two fatal and life-changing incidents in Tower Hamlets. One of these incidents resulted in the death of an 11-year-old girl. The incidents are believed to be caused by unexperienced individuals using professional pest control products.

Tower Hamlets has launched the campaign, Kill Pests Not People . It aims to keep everyone safer by

  • making sure residents avoid buying pest control products from online marketplaces with multiple sellers.
  • ensuring that residents don’t buy from sellers where they can’t be sure if the product is suitable for amateur use.
  • and only purchase from reputable UK sellers.

 Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“Pest control products sold in the UK go through rigorous testing to make sure they’re safe for amateur use. When people use pest control chemicals that are only meant for professional use or have been shipped in from outside of the UK, they can harm more than just pests”.

You can get in touch with us to report pests - we can provide treatment to remove infestations such as mice, rats, or bed bugs. As well as preventative treatments such as sewer baiting. While your service charges almost only cover communal areas, pest control in rented homes (non-leaseholder) is included in this charge as it’s likely to spread to your neighbours if not treated quickly.

The council also has an affordable pest control service that has experienced trained officers and effective treatments and can give advice on how you can stop pests from coming back.

Report pests in your home

Tower Hamlets Council Pest Control Service

Pest control products: important buying advice

Kill pests not people

Fire safety and electric heaters

The popularity of electric heaters has increased as energy bills have soared. Electrical Safety First is urging people that use heaters to ensure:

  • the device is on a level surface, well away from anything or anyone that could knock it over
  • it is well away from combustible materials, such as paper, furniture or curtains
  • it is never used to dry clothes
  • it is never left unattended for long periods while in use, or while you are asleep
  • extension leads are not used to power a heater as they can easily be overloaded
  • you regularly inspect your heater for damage and deterioration

Find out more

Fire alarm advice

Your home will have its own fire alarm and we recommend you that you test it weekly. It only takes a few seconds and could save your life.  

Most of our buildings follow a 'stay put policy' (you can find your fire notice in your communal entrance hall), this means that you are advised to stay in your home, if it's not affected by the fire. It may also mean that there are no fire alarms in some of your communal areas. This may be because of:

  • Location: the detectors in internal lobbies may not be linked into individual homes (where fires normally begin) or to the stairs and landings (the main means of escape)
  • Confusion: the smoke alarms in the stairwells can cause confusion on whether to stay put or evacuate
  • Regulations: the design of the alarms and smoke ventilation needed to be brought up to current regulations standard and fire brigade requirements

 

How 'Stay put' buildings are designed to work in a fire:

  • Residential buildings are built to enable residents to 'stay put' if there is a fire elsewhere in your building
  • The Fire Service will put out the fire in the home where it started. You should not leave your home if it is not affected by the fire
  • 'Staying put' will help to ensure that the escape route is clear for the Fire Service
  • Your lobby, stairs, doors, walls and front door are all designed to provide at least one hour of fire protection
  • Your escape route and stairs have smoke ventilation and emergency lighting if needed
  • Your home will have it's own alarm to let you know if your home is affected 
  • If the staircase escape route has smoke in it, then smoke vents windows at the top of your building will open and let it out

 

Every building has had a Fire Risk Assessment, which you can find below. We frequently maintain and test your fire systems including smoke alarms, smoke vents, doors and walls to ensure they are working should the worst happen.

Find your Fire Risk Assessment

 

Related procedures

  • Health and Safety
  • Fire Safety
  • Tenancy Enforcement
  • Gas Safety
  • Estate inspections
  • Hoarding
  • Service Charge

Monitoring and scrutiny

  • Our Board
  • Resident Voice Panel (read more about RVP here)
  • Executive team
  • Regular management reports on FRA compliance
  • Officers reporting issues impacting on assurance
  • Internal Audit conducted by external auditors every 3 years
  • Review of contractor performance

 

E-bike and e-scooter guidance

2023 has seen the most e-bike and e-scooter fires in London than ever before. The blazes are often caused by the failure of a lithium battery, which can start fires within minutes. Many of the devices that catch light are being charged at the time. The London Fire Brigade has shared the following guidance. It’s important to adhere to this for the safety of you and your neighbours.

Reduce the risk of overheating

  • Batteries can get warm during their use. Allow them to cool down before attempting to re-charge.
  • Batteries should always be charged on hard flat surfaces where heat can escape.
  • Batteries can also pose a risk if they have been damaged, so try to ensure they are not getting knocked around while in use or while being carried.
  • Batteries should also never be exposed to extremes of temperature.

Follow the instructions

  • Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when charging
  • Never leave it charging unattended or while you’re sleeping
  • You should always make sure you unplug your charger once it’s finished charging.
  • Always use the correct charger for your batteries and buy any replacements from a reputable seller.

Where to charge your batteries

  • Never block your escape route with e-bikes or e-scooters
  • Store and charge them somewhere away from a main through route or exit
  • Make sure you and your family have an escape plan in place in the event of a fire. Always call 999, never try to fight the fire yourself.

E-bikes/scooters should never be left in communal areas where they might block escape routes. If you spot this in your building, please report it to our customer service team.

Get in touch

We're here to help. Get in touch on 020 7780 3070 or