My new job: self-taught fire safety expert
Victoria Whitlock found official advice on protecting her tenants so confusing, she did her own risk assessment using the internet
accompanying guide, did it myself. As a result, I’ve decided to err on the side of caution and install interconnected mains-operated alarms. I am also going to install a mains-operated heat alarm in the kitchen, which will be connected to the smoke alarms. In total, this will cost about £600.
I probably ought to provide a fire blanket for the kitchen, which I can get for less than £5 from my local hardware store. I’d been wondering if I should get a fire extinguisher, too, but after reading the official guidance I think this might do more harm than good. Far better, I think, to tell tenants to evacuate rather than try to fight a fire. I certainly wouldn’t trust any of those ditsy students to use an extinguisher effectively. I had also considered fitting a self-closing arm to the kitchen door to try to prevent a fire spreading to the rest of the flat, but apparently these can make a door hard to open, trapping someone inside a blazing room.
During my assessment I spotted that a couple of the tenants had extension leads plugged into other extension leads, which they had loaded with multiple plugs for things such as hairdryers, curling tongs and laptops, all of which they had left on standby. I emailed them all warning them this was a hazard and asked them only to use one extension lead at a time and to turn off appliances when not in use. They will ignore me, but I can only do my best.
I just hope that all this is enough and that at least now I am complying with all the law.