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High rise flats – what you need to know

Stay put advice – still appropriate?

Yes - please be aware the advice is different if the fire is in your own flat, but ‘stay put’ is our advice if the fire is in a different part of the building.

High rise construction is such that the building is designed to contain a fire to the flat where it starts. In all but the most extreme circumstances, it shouldn’t spread further within the block.

If you have a fire or see smoke in your flat:

  • leave the room where the fire is straight away, and then close the door
  • tell everyone in your home and get them to leave
  • close the front door of your flat behind you
  • don't stay behind to put the fire out
  • always use the stairs, not the lift
  • call the fire service and wait outside, well away from the building.

If you see or hear of a fire in another part of the building

  • The building is designed to contain a fire in the flat where it starts.
  • This means it will usually be safe for you to stay in your own flat if the fire is elsewhere.
  • You must leave immediately if smoke or heat affects your home, or if you are told to by the fire service.
  • If you're in any doubt, get out.


Escape ladders or ropes – should I buy one?

We wouldn't recommend that you use a rope or ladder. Your flat is designed to hold back a fire. You're more likely to be injured attempting to use a ladder or rope.


Should my front door be a fire door?

Yes. 

The front door to a flat should be a fire door with a minimum standard of fire resistance and fitted with a self-closing device. This is provided to prevent the spread of fire from a flat to common areas. 

If you're concerned about the suitability of your front door, contact your building management.


What we're doing as a result of the Grenfell Tower incident

We're supporting local authorities, housing associations and landlords to ensure that fire risk assessments are up to date and being properly implemented to protect all residents. 

We continue to promote fire safety advice and offer free Safe and Well visits, offering smoke alarms fitted free of charge. 

We also carry out reassurance and familiarisation visits at all high rise premises in Hertfordshire.


Tips to stay safe

There are plenty of things you can do to ensure you're as safe as possible from a fire:

  • Smoke detectors. Ensure you have at least 1 working smoke detector in your property. Check it at least every month.  For flats or properties with 1 level, it should be positioned in the hallway between the bedrooms and exit.
  • Evacuation plan. Make sure you and your family know what to do in case of fire, including knowing the evacuation plan and escape route. Keep escape routes clear so you can get out and fire fighters can get in.
  • Safety notices for home appliances register your appliances to get any important safety notices or to check if your products are subject to a product recall. You can still register old applicances and get updates.

    Don’t ignore any safety notices, particularly where they relate to a fire safety risk.
  • Control flammable materials and ignition sources (like matches or hot surfaces). That includes keeping matches and lighters safe and secure, turning off the hob or oven after use, and making sure cigarettes are fully extinguished before putting them in the bin or rubbish chute.
  • Fire doors – keep them shut. Make sure fire doors aren't wedged open. Raise any concerns with the building management.


More about fire safety

Fire safety guidance – advice from central government.

Building Safety Programme – the Department for Communities and Local Government has established this to identify buildings which are of concern.

Book a free Safe and Well visit from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue.

Alternatively, contact Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service for advice on 0300 123 4046.


Advice for local authorities

This doesn't replace the need for local judgment of course, but aims to summarise recent and current guidance, and will be updated daily.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) have asked all councils to check any cladding on their tower blocks and if appropriate send it for testing. 

Councils have a crucial role in engaging effectively with communities on these issues, both with council tenants and more widely, irrespective of who owns particular buildings. Please check frequently asked questions for more information.

Firefighting in residential buildings – National Fire Chiefs Council update.