Fire safety for council tenants

How to reduce the risk of fires in your home, including advice for high-rise tenants.

General advice

Maintaining fire safety equipment and being aware of fire risks in your home will help to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out.

Smoke alarms

Most properties have a smoke alarm fitted. If your home does not have a smoke alarm fitted, contact us on 0800 188 4000. For mobiles call 0113 376 0410.          

We will arrange for a battery detector to be fitted until a mains detector can be installed.          

Don’t put alarms in or near kitchens or bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident.          

Maintaining your smoke alarm

Make sure your smoke alarm is in good working order by:          

  • testing it once a week
  • replacing the battery every year (if necessary)
  • vacuuming its vents twice a year
You must not cover the detector, remove the battery or isolate the power supply.          

Kitchen safety

To reduce the risk of fires in the kitchen:          

  • take pans off the heat or turn them down if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking
  • make sure saucepan handles don't stick out to avoid knocking them off the stove
  • take care if you are wearing loose clothing, it can easily catch fire
  • keep tea towels away from the cooker and hob
  • use spark devices to light gas cookers rather than matches or lighters, they are safer than a naked flame
  • make sure the cooker is off when you've finished cooking
  • keep electrics away from water
  • check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls
  • keep the oven, hob and grill clean - a buildup of grease can cause a fire
  • don't put anything metal in the microwave
If a pan catches fire, turn off the heat if it's safe to do so - never throw water over it.          
Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and sauce pan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.          

Deep fat frying

If you use a deep fat fryer:          

  • take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily
  • make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash
  • if the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot - turn off the heat and leave it to cool
  • use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer - they can’t overheat


Avoid electrical fires by:          

  • keeping appliances clean and in good working order
  • checking that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating
  • making sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it
  • try and keep to one plug per socket, especially for high powered appliances such as washing machines
  • being careful not to overload extension leads or adaptors, which have a limit to how many amps they can take
  • checking and replacing old cables and leads
  • unplugging appliances when you're not using them

Check regularly for signs of dangerous or loose wiring, such as:          

  • scorch marks
  • hot plugs and sockets
  • fuses that blow
  • circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons
  • flickering lights

Electric blankets

If you use an electric blanket:          

  • storing it flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damage to the internal wiring
  • unplugging it before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use
  • not buying second hand blankets if possible
  • checking regularly for wear and tear


If you smoke inside your home, make sure you:          

  • stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully - do not put them directly into a bin
  • never smoke in bed
  • use a proper ashtray made of a material that won't burn
  • don’t leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around
  • keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach - consider buying child resistant lighters and match boxes
  • do not leave e-cigarettes to charge overnight and only use the charger and parts that were originally supplied
  • do not carry loose spare batteries in your pocket
Take extra care if you smoke when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs, or if you’ve been drinking - you might fall asleep and set your bed or sofa on fire.          


  • keep fire doors closed when they are not in use
  • close your internal doors when you go to bed
  • keep aerosols in a cool, dry place - heat can cause an aerosol can to burst
  • keep candles in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire, like curtains
  • put candles out properly when you leave the room
  • check that your furniture has a fire-resistant permanent label
  • secure portable heaters against a wall to stop them falling over
  • keep portable heaters away from curtains and furniture
  • report any fault or damage to your flat entrance door for high-rise tenants

Do not

  • prop or wedge communal doors open
  • spray aerosols near a naked flame
  • smoke when you are using an aerosol or just afterwards
  • leave candles or tea lights unattended
  • leave children alone with lit candles
  • use portable heaters to dry clothes
  • tamper with or alter any of the flat entrance door fittings for high-rise tenants

High-rise flats

There are some simple fire safety steps you can take if you live in a high- rise flat.

Do not store liquid petroleum gas in a high-rise flat. A gas explosion in a block of flats could cause death or serious injury.

Flat entrance fire doors

High-rise flats have a fire-resistant fire door fitted to the entrance. This is required by law and has the following features:          

  1. A self-closer.
  2. Fire resistant door viewer.
  3. If glazing is fitted within the door, it will be fire resistant.
  4. Fire resistant letter box assembly.
  5. Intumescent seals to door frame (seals that swell if heated to prevent fire spread).
  6. Smoke seals to door frame.
  7. All hardware including hinges and handles are fire resistant.
  8. Thumb turn lock.

You must never tamper with or alter any of the fittings. These doors are there to protect you within the block.          

Any fault or damage to the door needs to be reported by calling 0800 188 4000 and asking for an emergency repair.          

From 2023, we will inspect flat entrance fire doors from both sides, inside and outside. Notice of the dates of inspection will be given in advance.          

These inspections are a requirement of new laws and are for your safety. Residents, leaseholders and their tenants must allow access for inspections.          

Communal areas, landings and balconies

Do not keep combustible items such as artificial flowers, furniture, rubbish bins and books in balconies or communal areas, including landings and lobbies.          

Barbecues, wood burners and candles are not permitted on balconies.          

Do not drop cigarettes over balconies.          

Any combustible items found in communal areas will be removed and disposed of.          

Rubbish chutes and waste

Fires caused by rubbish or waste which has been incorrectly disposed of are very common. To prevent fires, make sure you:          

  • put your waste in small bags and put the bags down the chute
  • do not put loose boxes down the chute
  • do not force bags down the chute
  • do not leave bulky furniture on the landings


To make sure your sprinklers work properly:          

  • never paint a sprinkler head or cover plate
  • never paint any exposed pipework
  • never hang anything from a sprinkler head or pipework
  • never obstruct or damage or attempt removal of a sprinkler head
Never use a wallpaper or paint stripper near a sprinkler head, as these will set off the sprinklers.          

What to do if a fire starts

Due to how your building was built, the structure provides a level of fire resistance.

If the fire is in your flat, you should:          

  • alert any other people in the flat
  • leave the flat and close the door after the last person
  • go to the communal lounge if you live in a Retirement LIFE block and if you encounter smoke on route, leave the building by the nearest fire exit
  • follow the escape route
  • never use the lift
  • not go back to your flat until you have been told it is safe to do so
If the fire is in someone else's flat, you can stay in your flat if you consider it safe to do so.         

If you are cut off by fire

  • block the bottom of doorways with blankets or coats
  • with the door shut, open the window and call for help
  • call 999 if you can
  • stay near the window
  • if you are trapped in a high storey, lean out of the open window for fresh air until help arrives
  • if the room gets too smoky, crouch to floor level where it will be easier to breathe
  • if your flat is not too high from the ground, drop cushions or bedding to the ground below to break your fall. Get out feet first and lower yourself down the full length of your arms before dropping

Read about our commitments to communicate, listen and respond to high-rise resident feedback in our annual high-rise building safety resident engagement strategy.

Being prepared

Escaping from a fire is a lot easier if you have planned an escape route. Make an escape plan – If a fire occurs in your home and the power fails, you will have to get out in dark and smoky conditions.

Always ensure that you keep your escape route clear, it will usually be your normal way in and out but an obstruction could be life threatening if there is a fire.

If you live in a shared building, make sure you report any rubbish left in hallways or staircases.

Bedtime checklist

  • close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading
  • turn off and unplug electrical appliances that aren't in use
  • check your cooker is turned off
  • don’t leave the washing machine on
  • turn heaters off and put up fire guards
  • put any candles or cigarettes out properly
  • make sure exits are kept clear
  • keep door and window keys where everyone can find them

More information on building safety for residents can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website external link.

Further help

If you are vulnerable or know someone who may be vulnerable please contact West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for a free safe and well visit.

During the visit, they will give you advice to reduce the risk of a fire happening in your home, and discuss a fire escape plan. They can also discuss concerns such as the risk of falling, getting help to stop smoking, or preventing crime from taking place.

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