Housing and Planning Bill Committee

Written evidence submitted by Lewes Price,

Ex Health and Safety consultant on fire prevention (HPB 119)

Housing and Planning Bill

Amendment
Addition to Part 4

CHAPTER 5

FIRE SAFETY

84 Means of escape

(1) Each property must be fitted with a means of escape from rooms situated above ground level,

(a) A fire escape ladder must be fitted in each room above ground level and precise instructions left on their use,

(b) Each room above ground level must have a window suitable for the use of the ladder,

(c) The fire escape ladder must be stored in a location that prevents small children from accessing,

(d) The fixing for the ladder when used as a means of escape must be securely fixed to the wall that allows the ladder to be safely hung out the window. The secure fittings must be capable of supporting at least 400kg,

(e) The ladder is to be fitted with a safety device that prevents its opening unless attached to the secure fittings. There should however be a failsafe that allows the ladder to be opened without being attached to the secure fittings,

(f) New residents to the property must be given detailed instructions as to the operating of the fire escape ladders,

(g) New residents must be instructed and shown how to use the ladders,

(h) It is the responsibility of the new residents to teach any other occupants that are old enough in the use of the ladder,

(i) Children of teenagers must be taught that the ladders are not toys or to be used as a means of exit, in non-emergency situations. The same should apply to the secure fittings,

(j) The secure fittings should be installed and designed to ensure they will not harm children, especially babies and toddlers.

Fire Protection

85 Fire Extinguishers

(1) Each property must be fitted with fire extinguishers,

(a) The fire extinguishers must be in a location not accessible by small children,

(a) Precise instructions of how to use must be left near every fire extinguishers,

(b) New residents to the property must be instructed and shown how to use the extinguishers,

(c) Kitchen Fire extinguishers must be provided that are of the correct type.

Fire Safety

86 CO2 Detectors/Alarms

(1) Each property must be fitted with one or more CO2 alarms

(a) All CO2 alarms must be mains powered but with battery backup,

(b) All CO2 alarms must be linked to the household smoke alarms, so that if one is trigged, all alarms will sound,

(c) A CO2 alarm must be located in the kitchen, if gas appliances are present. They should be positioned far enough away from gas appliances to prevent false alarms,

(d) A CO2 alarm must be fitted in any room containing a gas appliance.

87 Smoke detectors/Alarms

(1) There should be smoke alarm located on every floor of the house, preferably in the hall and each landing,

(a) All smoke alarms must be mains powered but with battery backup,

(b) All smoke and C02 alarms must be linked, so if one is triggered all alarms will sound,

(c) Any alarms that have been triggered must sound a different tone, so that persons in the house will know where the danger area(s) are,

(d) The optimal location of the smoke alarms is in the hall and each landing,

(e) The smoke alarm must be located away from any draughts,

(f) No smoke alarm is to be placed in a kitchen,

(g) If possible, the smoke detector should be located away from the kitchen and bathroom entrances to prevent false alarms.

88 Provision of power to any electrical fire safety devices

(1) All electrical fire safety devices must be connected to their own MCB in the household consumer unit. Under no circumstances are the Smoke or CO2 alarms to be connected to any MCB providing power to other appliances.

Annual Fire Safety Checks

89 Each property to have an annual fire safety check

(1) Means of escape.

(a) The means of escape must be checked, to ensure it is not blocked. If blocked by the placement of any object by any occupant, all should be warned of the consequences, and that blocking a means of escape will put their lives in danger,

(b) The ladder and secure wall fixings should checked for damage. Any damage must be rectified. Check that they are easily accessible and not blocked by any object. Warn occupants as in 1(a),

(c) Check that the secure fittings are still in place and ensure they are still safe, and not cause harm to children, especially babies and toddlers.

(2) Fire Extinguishers

(a) Each Fire extinguisher must be checked to ensure it is still in full working order. It should be replaced if found to be faulty or has been in use,

(b) Check that access to the fire extinguisher is not hindered in any way.

(3) CO2 Alarms

(a) Each CO2 alarm must be tested to ensure it functions as designed. The backup battery has to be checked to ensure it has sufficient power,

(b) On testing the alarm, ensure that all other alarms, including the Smoke alarms, sound,

(c) Check the CO2 alarms have not suffered any damage. If it has, replace.

(4) Smoke Alarms

(a) Each smoke alarm must be tested to ensure it functions as designed. The backup battery has to be checked to ensure it has sufficient power,

(b) On testing the alarm, ensure that all other alarms, including the CO2 alarms, sound,

(c) Check the smoke alarm has not suffered any damage. If it has, replace.

Building Fire Safety

90 Construction of the House

(1) Build construction must consist of the following:--

(a) All external walls must be double brick with the inner bricks having insulation properties,

(b) There should be brick ties between the outer and inner bricks,

(c) The cavity must be filled with the recommended thermal medium,

(d) If the thermal medium is of the loose type, a barrier must be placed at the eaves to ensure, any of this thermal medium is not lost.

(e) All internal walls must be of brick construction, normally concrete.

I suggest that the recommended amendments as stated above are made a standard for all new houses, as together they will significantly reduce the fatalities from house fires.

There is also an abuse of the planning process by some housebuilders, one that springs to mind is, Taylor Wimpey, as mentioned by Caroline Nokes, in the adjournment debate, 2nd December 2015.

Planning law needs to be tightened to stop the abuse, as local councils are taking a blind eye to it, so the builders are of the opinion that they can get away with it. Planning departments must also investigate statements about any build given by the builder. Taylor Wimpey stated an installation was a specific distance and after a subsequent measurement was taken, by a resident; their measurement was out by over 100 metres, which is greater than could be expected as a mistake.

Some builders, especially Taylor Wimpey convince councils that they are correct, irrespective of being so. The misrepresentation should be stopped as it will eventually result in the buying of new homes.

December 2015

Prepared 8th December 2015