Residents warned to keep escape routes clear

07 December 2018

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service is reminding people living in flats and buildings with communal escape routes that these areas must be kept clear in case of emergencies. Common objects left in communal areas include waste bags, bicycles, prams and mobility scooters.

There is also a warning about the dangers of festive decorations following a house fire last week.

Ensuring all passages and corridors (escape routes) are clear of clutter is an ongoing issue within communal properties.  Landlords have a responsibility to ensure fire escapes and exits are kept clear. In the run up to Christmas, fire staff will be working with landlords, housing associations and local authorities across Norfolk to promote the public safety messaging to the public around keeping exit routes clear. 

ouncillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Communities Committee, said:  "The problem often worsens over the winter as other items are left in such areas, including winter footwear and Christmas trees. Items such as tables are also moved outside into communal areas to make way for Christmas trees in homes.

"If a fire were to start in a communal space which is full of clutter or storage, the escape routes for the residents could prevent or hinder the safe evacuation of people leaving the building.  Such items also invite the risk for a deliberate fire being started.

"Items blocking escape routes could also affect the speed the fire service would be able to resolve the fire as well as blocking firefighters rescuing the occupants."

If any resident has concerns about clutter/storage in their means of escape, they should firstly raise these concerns with their neighbours. If this does not bring any results please inform your landlord or the management agency. You may also refer the matter to your local housing authority.

If for any reason you cannot speak to your neighbour or landlord about Fire Safety concerns, you can contact Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service on the number or email below.

All correspondence will be treated with the strictest confidence.

Contact the Fire Service Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on 0800 917 8137  to be put through to Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service’s Community Safety Team.

You can find more details about fire safety in the home, including booking a home fire risk check and planning an escape route on the Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service website..

The advice also applies to all types of homes, with areas including hallways, landings, staircases and porches needing to be kept clutter-free to offer an easier escape route in an emergency, as well as helping to reduce slips, trips and falls.

Residents are also being reminded about the fire risks associated with Christmas decorations.

"We want all Norfolk residents to have a safe and prosperous Christmas there are a few things people can do to help reduce the risk of fire," said Garry Collins, Head of Fire Prevention and Protection at Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service.

"This includes switching off festive lights at night, not overloading plug sockets, not leaving cooking appliances unattended and taking extreme care with fireplaces and any candles."

Last Thursday two Norfolk residents were taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation following a fire in their home caused by Christmas decorations being ignited by a gas lighter which was being used to light a candle. Thankfully the fire was extinguished quickly and only affected the lounge, as internal doors had been kept shut as part of their night time routine.

"The occupants were surprised at how quickly the fire took hold. Christmas decorations made from combustible materials quickly ignited. This fire could have been much worse if it wasn't for the prompt actions by the householders," said GM Collins.

In the event of a fire residents should get out, stay out and call 999.

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