Following the terrible incident at Grenfell Tower last night, we are reviewing all aspects of our fire safety policy and procedures. We want to reassure our residents and commercial tenants that whilst we are confident that the policy and procedure for fire safety we have in place and which are on our website are fit for purpose, safety is our top priority and we want to ensure we are taking all the appropriate steps in light of last night’s tragedy.
This includes taking advice on what represents a serious fire hazard in our buildings and where they exist to remove them. We expect these to include items left in communal areas which will not be tolerated, since items left in communal parts are hazards where they block escape routes or where they may be flammable themselves.
As landlords we are responsible for the safety of all our residents and commercial tenants, but residents and commercial tenants are also obliged to act responsibly in relation to fire safety.
Meanwhile we are monitoring the read outs regarding the causes and contributors to the fire at Grenfell House so that we can establish whether they apply to us. Given the public enquiry that has now been announced we can now expect conclusive evidence of the causes to become available which we will of course, respond to.
Safety is and will always be a top priority at Soho Housing.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions:
Q: Why are you removing fire extinguishers from all properties?
A: We are following the advice of Metro Fire Safety, our fire safety advisors, and the London Fire Brigade. If it is not safe to evacuate, residents should stay inside their properties with the doors closed and wait for the fire service to attend and rescue them.
Q: Is it really safe to wait inside my home if there is no means of escape?
A: This is the safest option in homes with a “stay put” policy, as homes are constructed with fire safety features which will make them safe from fire for at least 30 minutes (unless the fire started inside that home) – which allows ample time for the fire service to attend. Other blocks require full evacuation. This information is provided in the Fire Action Notice in the entrance of each block.
Q: Will the fire service be able to rescue us from our homes?
A: We do not have any high rise properties, the tallest being 6 floors, which means the fire service can access homes on all floors to rescue everyone.
Q: Does the smoke detector in my home need to be checked?
A: Smoke detectors are checked as part of annual gas service checks. All Soho gas safety checks are up to date and will therefore have had their smoke alarms checked within the last 12 months. If you wish to have your smoke alarm checked more frequently, the fire service will carry out this service for you. Residents are responsible for changing batteries in smoke detectors and alerting us to any defects.
Q: Is my smoke detector checked if I am in a home without a gas supply (and therefore does not have gas safety checks)?
A: Yes - on an annual basis when we do your hot water cylinder checks
Q: What do I do if my smoke alarm beeps?
A: It probably needs the battery changing. If changing the battery does not work or if the device is hard-wired contact us.
Q: Do the fire alarms in my block get checked?
A: The fire alarms do get checked within the building. The regularity of checks (weekly, monthly or quarterly) is determined by our fire risk assessment.
Q: Do any Soho Housing properties have external cladding like that at Grenfell House?
A: No, we do not have any buildings with external cladding like that at Grenfell House
Q: Who do I contact at Soho Housing if I have specific questions about fire safety in my flat or building?
A: Contact your Housing Officer. You can find out who your housing officer is here
Q: How can I learn more about fire safety?
A:We are in the process of inviting the fire service to do a presentation and Q&A from our office and will advertise this once a date has been arranged. You can learn more about fire safety from the Fire Service website
Q: Do you have a fire safety policy?
A: Yes. You can access our fire safety policy here
Q: Why don’t we have fire drills in our building?
A: The guidance from the London Fire Brigade and our fire safety consultants is that fire drills are not required in residential blocks.