In a response to the government’s consultation on ‘Conditions in the Private Sector’ the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) has again urged the government to enact new enabling measures included in the Energy Act that require private sector landlords to install and maintain smoke alarms in all properties.
As the professional voice of the Fire and Rescue Service, CFOA passionately believes that regulation is required, based on professional knowledge and experience as well as underpinning local intelligence.
The Fire and Rescue Service see first-hand the devastating consequences of fire. Only last week South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, with the South Yorkshire Times and the South Yorkshire Coroner, launched a campaign for change and action following a recent tragic event where a two-year-old girl, Libby Jayne Hornsby lost her life in a house fire in Conisbrough.
Within the response, CFOA recognise that a broad range of fire-related incidents are dropping in number, including deaths and injuries, however a significant risk for those living in rented properties remains. According to statistics, between 2006/7 and 2011/12 over 650 people died in fires where there was no smoke alarm present.
Paul Fuller, CFOA President, explains: “Although the current voluntary system of installing smoke alarms has had some success, a regulated system with significant penalties for landlords would build upon this, and ensure rogue landlords feel compelled to install and periodically check smoke alarms and protect their tenants.
“Early research currently being undertaken by the University of Manchester has suggested that two thirds (62 per cent) of fire deaths that occur in private rented housing did not have a working smoke alarm. A smoke alarm with a ten-year battery is available on the high street for between £14.99 and £19.99, equivalent to just £1.99 a year, and should not be a significant burden or cost for landlords or the broader private rented sector.
“CFOA stands ready to support the government in establishing the most practical means of delivering this policy including supporting the DCLG and its officials to undertake a comprehensive impact assessment.
The full CFOA response to the consultation is available to download from www.cfoa.org.uk/17532.