20 Sep 2022

Guest post by Jayne O’Brien, Eden May Group

Yesterday one of our tenanted homes caught fire.

Luckily, thankfully, everyone is safe.

This was an accidental fire caused when the tenant’s daughter put the toaster on and went upstairs.

A simple, almost insignificant act. We’ve all probably done something similar a hundred times ourselves.

The heat detector in the kitchen & smoke alarms to each floor are all interlinked and in working order, thankfully they all went off raising them alarm to the daughter who we think had gone upstairs to the third floor. 

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service arrived within 3 minutes of the call.

The damage to the property is devastating. 

All of the tenant’s personal possessions are lost as a result of fire or smoke damage.

The tenants don’t have any contents insurance.

I can’t stress how grateful we are that our tenant family and their neighbours are safe. Understandably they and their landlord are very shaken and in a state of shock. 

But this devastation happened in a matter of minutes. 

I urge everyone to do these things NOW.

👉 Don’t leave the kitchen if you’re cooking ANYTHING

👉Test your smoke detectors weekly

👉 Tenants PLEASE take out contents insurance

👉If you have fire doors, keep them closed to stop the spread of fire.

👉Make sure everyone in the house has some basic fire safety knowledge

👉Landlords please make sure you have comprehensive buildings insurance

👉Landlords: Don’t quibble about the cost of interlinked smoke detectors versus cheap £5 battery operated ones.

Bricks & mortar can be repaired. Possessions can be replaced. Lives can’t 

🥰 We really do have THE best landlords in the area 🥰

So I just sent an email to everyone of our tenanted homes and our landlords about this terrible house fire and urged everyone to take care.

Some might have thought it a little contentious, writing directly to my landlord clients telling them not to quibble about costs, but when it comes to keeping people safe, is there really any choice?

We’ve always prided ourselves on working with clients who want to be the very best landlords, offering great homes to fantastic tenants. In fact, where this criteria hasn’t been met or we don’t think the landlord is like minded, we have dis-instructed the client, even thought it means a loss of revenue. 

So when I got this instant text in reply to my email, it made me very proud.

“Good email Jayne and so sorry to read it. Awful for everyone involved. If you ever think I could be a better landlord please take this as carte blanche to kick my ass! “

Well in truth, it made me burst into tears…. It’s been a very emotional week! 😭

Editor’s note

An awful situation and exactly why the guidance (British Standard 5839-6:2019) now recommends interconnected mains-wired Grade D1 alarms throughout all rental properties. 

Bedrooms should now be considered as risk rooms and have Smoke Alarms too because of the amount of electrical equipment we now all have. And also bedrooms need to sounders inside to be loud enough (75 decibels at the bedhead) to ensure sleepers wake up fast!

So basically SMOKE  alarms in halls, landings, reception rooms and bedrooms and HEAT alarm in the kitchen.

I’ve written a booklet to give to tenants (though all landlords should ready it too) that shows just how fast a room turns into an 800C fireball (clue: it’s under 3 minutes) and it contains links to a video showing that and also one on how to use a fire blanket.   

The more people that see it and understand why fire doors are necessary and shouldn’t be propped open and why smoke alarms should not be covered over to smoke a crafty fag or joint the better 

It’s here: https://bit.ly/t-fire 

Please feel free to repost the link to other landlords. Ed.

Thank you for reading

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