All of our schemes, including tower blocks, have procedures in place, regarding what to do in the event of a fire, which must be followed.
You are responsible for making sure that you know what the procedure is for the scheme where you live - it is critical that you familiarise yourself with it and create your own emergency plan based on the advice provided.
Any plan you make must be memorised by your whole family, and should include evacuation routes and external meeting places, such as a car park or neighbouring property.
It is important to ensure that there is a working smoke alarm in your home. Please test your smoke alarm regularly and if it is not working, check the battery. If this does not resolve the issue, please report this as a repair. Please note that leaseholders and factoring customers in Scotland are responsible for maintaining any smoke and fire detection systems installed within their flat.
Although your safety is the most important issue, you should also make sure that you take out contents insurance, as this is not included in your rent. Having contents insurance will ensure that you can replace your belongings in the event of a fire, or other incident.
Each of our blocks has a fire safety policy in place that is appropriate to that building. Residents living in some of our tower blocks, or private retirement developments in Scotland, are asked to follow a 'Stay Put' policy. This is displayed on signage within the communal areas.
A stay put policy means that, in the event of a fire, anyone in the flat where the fire has started should make their way out of the building immediately and, those in all other flats, should stay put in their flats unless asked to leave by the Fire Service. If you are in a communal area, such as stairwell or corridor, you should leave the building immediately.
It's important to remember that, although it may go against your instincts to stay put during a fire, buildings with a stay put policy have been built in such a way as to protect the people in it should a fire break out. All the doors are fire doors, so keep them closed to avoid the fire spreading. The Fire Service has not changed their advice on stay put policies in light of the tragic events at Grenfell Tower.
If you live in a building that does not have a stay put policy the following advice applies.
If you are in the room where the fire is, leave straight away and close the door (if safe to do so). You need to get everybody in your home ready to leave and proceed to the evacuation point.
If a fire occurs inside your home you must NOT try to put the fire out yourself. Fire spreads extremely quickly and the more time you spend trying to put a fire out, the less time you have to take other steps to protect yourself and your family.
It may be tempting to use the lift, especially if you have difficulty walking, but you must never use the lift during a fire. If you have a balcony, do not use this to exit the building unless it is part of the escape route.
When you are safely out of the building, call the fire brigade immediately by dialling 999.
If it is safe to do so, inform other residents. There will be fire alarm points on all floors in blocks of flats and these just need a gentle push to activate the alarm. It is always important to still call 999, so that the emergency services know it isn't a drill or a mistake.
The fire brigade should always be called to a fire, even if it only seems small. When you are put through to the operator, ask for the fire service. When you are transferred you should tell them the address where the fire is happening.
Do not end the call until the operator has repeated the address to you and you are sure they have the correct details.
Unlike residents living in flats, you should immediately leave a house if a fire occurs. The difference is that flats have fire safety doors that provide protection in the event of a fire: houses do not.
If you are in a room where a fire has developed, leave straight away and, if safe to do so, close any doors as you go to delay the fire spreading.
Again, make sure that you have a plan in place in case of a fire in your home.
Finally, we'd like to mention just a few things that you should NOT do during a fire.
Above all, always remember to use your own instincts.
And remember: always check you have a working smoke alarm, know your escape plan in the event of a fire and make sure that all members of your family understand the plan.
Again, this plan is something that should be practised and it should include evacuation routes, outside meeting places (such as a neighbour's house a safe distance from the building) and making sure that children know basic fire safety rules.
It can save valuable time and ultimately save lives!
Simple steps you can take to keep yourself, your family and your home as safe as possible.