London Fire Brigade in flats fire safety drive

A new report has found that hundreds of thousands of people living in high-rise flats and maisonettes are in potential danger because they do not have a fire escape plan.

The London Fire Brigade said half of high-rise residents would leave their home even if a fire was somewhere else in the block – which can be the most dangerous thing to do.

The brigade launched a new campaign to highlight the issue, following recommendations made by the coroner into the inquest of six people who died in a tower block fire in Camberwell, South London, in 2009.

Landlords are being urged to check they comply with fire safety laws, while residents are encouraged to find out what they should do in the event of a fire.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Living in a flat is not more dangerous than living in a house, but it’s important to know that your fire plan should be different. Flats and maisonettes are built to give you some protection from fire – a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60. Walls, floors and doors will hold back flames and smoke for a time.

“If there is a fire elsewhere in the building but not inside your home, you’re usually safer staying in your flat unless heat or smoke is affecting you.”

James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said: “Landlords and housing providers with legal responsibilities for flats and maisonettes in purpose-built blocks need to act right now to ensure their residents are safe and understand what to do in a fire.”