Fire safety champion for landlords

Cllr Mark Healey has been appointed to raise the alarm in the rented sector

This week Councillor Mark Healey, Chair of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority, was appointed as a champion for fire safety in rented homes, as part of The Government’s Fire Kills campaign.

This is a welcome move to encourage landlords to take responsibility and ensure their properties are as safe as possible for their tenants.
Since it began in the eighties, the Fire Kills campaign has dramatically reduced the number of deaths and casualties. Smoke alarm ownership has increased from just 9 per cent in 1987 to 86 per cent in 2010. With the increase in the number of people renting – it makes sense that the Government is focusing effort on the rental sector and the role of the landlord.

Evidence has suggested those renting properties without an alarm are often the vulnerable; the elderly and the single parent families.

A landlord himself, Cllr Mark Healey said: “As a landlord myself, I know how important it is to install working smoke alarms in the properties I am responsible for. I am therefore pleased to have been asked to help support the Government’s Fire Kills campaign and urge all landlords to consider installing either 10-year battery alarms or hard-wired detectors in their properties.”

There is no law making it compulsory for landlords to fit fire alarms but a property without one is effectively a death trap. It is a matter of good practice – landlords don’t want to have blood on their hands.

There is a common law ‘duty of care’ meaning landlords could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a tenanted property where smoke alarms are not fitted.

Maybe the new appointment will help reignite the parliamentary battle to introduce laws forcing landlords to fit fire alarms to their properties?

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