Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations

Fire, Gas and
Carbon Monoxide
Safety Regulations:
what Welsh social
landlords need to know
Stuart Macdonald
and Denise Chevin
Contents
Foreword3
About this guide4
Executive Summary5
Overview on fire safety9
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
new and upgraded dwellings12
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings13
The Housing Act 2004 and Housing Health and
Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
14
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
200515
The Fire and Rescue National Framework 2016 19
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard
Sprinkler systems and Domestic Fire Safety
(Wales) Measure 2011
19
21
Discussion points: Fire safety22
Fire safety after Lakanal House
and Shirley Towers
22
Regulations and Governance
23
Complexity of rules and regulations
24
Overview on carbon monoxide
and gas safety27
Carbon monoxide
29
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety31
Hard-wired or battery-operated alarms?
31
Investment in CO alarms
33
Data collection on CO incidents
and ‘trusted messengers’
35
Cookers and other fuel-burning
appliances as a greater CO risk
36
Gas safety compliance
37
Gas maintenance and servicing
38
Gas maintenance access
39
Quick reference grids on fire,
gas and carbon monoxide42
Fire rules for social and private rented
properties: Wales
42
Gas and Carbon monoxide rules for social
and private rented properties: Wales
43
Appendix 1
Research questions on health and
safety issues around fire, gas and carbon
monoxide44
Appendix 2
Glossary of terms
45
About the authors
46
Acknowledgements46
Gas safety and carbon monoxide legislation,
regulations and guidance: existing,
new and upgraded dwellings30
Building Regulations - part J
30
Gas Safety (Installation and Use)
Regulations 1998
30
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Contents
1
Foreword
Health and safety is one of the
most important issues for social
landlords. The sector has a good
record in avoiding fire, gas and CO
fatalities and injuries, but it could
do more.
2
Health and safety is one of the most important issues
for social landlords. The sector has a good record in
avoiding fire, gas and CO fatalities and injuries, but it
could do more.
This report sets out the legal and regulatory
responsibilities on landlords in respect of fire, gas and
CO health and safety.
In this guide we summarise these responsibilities,
explore the opportunity for using new technology to
improve safety monitoring and set out some of the key
issues that need to be addressed if the sector is to
maximise care for residents.
The main findings of this guide are:
•
A consistent approach to fire, gas and CO risk
assessment is required in social housing
•
Landlords should review their risk assessment in
terms of the installation of CO alarms
•
Social landlords can benefit from new technology,
particularly when preventing CO poisoning
•
Improved gas, fire and CO safety access rights are
required by landlords
•
Awareness of CO risk is increasing but landlords
can do more to inform tenants of the risk
•
A MOT-style approach to gas safety checks would
be helpful
•
Rationalising of health and safety rules and
regulations could improve resident safety
HouseMark is publishing this report as part of its work
on Innovation, notably its desire to explain the business
case for using new technology to better manage risk.
CIH Cymru is co-publishing this report as part of its
mission to improve housing standards.
Laurice Ponting
Chief Executive HouseMark
Annie Mauger
Executive director for the devolved nations,
CIH Cymru
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Foreword
3
About this guide
Executive Summary
This guide sets out the current responsibilities for
Welsh landlords in the social and private sectors
on fire and gas safety; it examines rules and
regulations; and sets out some key issues for social
landlords to consider. We believe that it is unique in
doing so.
The guide is aimed at informing the work of those at
social landlords with operational responsibility for fire
and gas safety.
4
The scale of the issue
Awareness and the management of risk related to fire,
gas and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning has improved
significantly in recent decades, particularly in the social
housing sector.
In all sectors combined, reported incidents, injuries and
fatalities have fallen consistently in over the last 30 or so
years - but the numbers are still too high.
It is also intended to serve as a reference point for
executives and the councillors and board members
of social housing providers who have governance
responsibility for risk management.
StatsWales statistics show that there were 16 fatalities
and 420 non-fatal injuries in fires in residential dwellings
in 2014/15. This compares with 13 people killed and
458 non-fatal injuries in fires in residential dwellings in
2015/161.
The guide is part of a series covering the four nations
of the UK. This series is the result of interviews with
individuals and organisations across the UK (see
‘Acknowledgements’), supplemented by desk research.
We are particularly grateful for the assistance given
by Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd Cyf, North Wales
Housing Association and the Community Housing
Cymru Health and Safety Network.
The available figures for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
show 60 accidental CO deaths recorded in England and
Wales in 2013, down from 130 in 20012. The chief medical
officer for Wales has said of CO in Wales: ‘Poisoning by
carbon monoxide is almost certainly under- diagnosed.
It is likely that many more people are being exposed and
suffering the ill effects of exposure than we know about.’
At 31 March 2015, Welsh social landlords accomodate
around 16 per cent of households3 and spend a large
amount of time and resources each year doing their best
to keep people safe. This is supported by the approach
taken by the Housing Regulation Team at the Welsh
Government, which exists to ‘protect the interests of
current and future tenants and other service users’ and
‘ensure good quality social housing services which meet
tenants’ needs’.
A recent review4 by the regulator of risks facing housing
associations highlighted the need for Boards to ‘ensure
they are contributing towards the delivery of service
outcomes’ such as ‘the duty of care/health and safety’ on
fire safety and gas servicing.
The level of awareness of the dangers of domestic fires
is far higher than a generation ago when, in 1988 just 8
per cent of households had smoke alarms, compared to
almost 90 per cent today. There have been some major
advances on tackling chip pan blazes and phasing out
open-flue fires as a source of heating.
As a result, there are very few fatalities in social housing.
Where they do occur, such as the Lakanal House and
Shirley Towers disasters in England, the level of sector
concern has led to campaigns by Inside Housing, new
guidance from the Local Government Association and
the formation of the National Social Housing Fire Strategy
Group.
Social landlords have invested in a variety of technologies
to improve fire, gas and carbon monoxide safety.
This tends to involve integrated fire and heat detection
systems that will automatically take a number of steps
in the event of an alarm being triggered. These steps
include alerting the fire service, returning all lifts to the
ground floor (if relevant) and opening the fire escapes.
But can social landlords do more to evaluate and prevent
injuries or fatalities?
A consistent approach to fire, gas
and CO risk assessment
All research respondents were aware of the need to
meet fire and gas safety requirements. However, the
scope of the approach taken by social landlords varies
considerably. Some are simply meeting their basic
requirements on fire or gas and taking the risk that there
will be no problems, while others are going far beyond
this and planning for future changes in tenant lifestyles,
changes in regulation and changes in technology.
Respondents were also aware of the risks of carbon
monoxide poisoning, with several implementing CO alarm
installation programmes. However, as there is no blanket
requirement to install CO alarms in social rented homes,
the approaches vary markedly and mean some tenants
are protected by CO alarms, while others are not.
Concern has also been expressed in the housing sector
about the paucity of in-house skills available to conduct
fire risk assessments. This has meant that the quality of
assessments can vary. Feedback suggests a need for
upskilling on fire risk assessment in the sector to address
this.
As housing association boards and local authority
councillors bear ultimate responsibility for the actions of
their organisation, board members and councillors need
to ensure they are fully informed on health and safety
matters outlined in this report on fire and gas safety
1https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Community-Safety-andSocial-Inclusion/Community-Safety/Fire-Incidents/Casualties/
casualties-by-detailedlocation-financialyear
www.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/business-transparency/freedom-
2
of-information/what-can-i-request/published-ad-hoc-data/health/
april-2015/number-of-deaths-from-accidental-poisoning-by-carbonmonoxide.xls
http://gov.wales/docs/statistics/2016/160420-dwelling-stock-
3
estimates-2014-15-en.pdf
http://gov.wales/topics/housing-and-regeneration/publications/
4
sector-risks-facing-housing-associations/?lang=en
About this guide
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Executive Summary
5
Executive Summary
Executive Summary
Landlords should review their risk
assessment in terms of the installation
of CO alarms
Social landlords can benefit from new
technology, particularly when preventing
CO poisoning
Carbon monoxide leaks can and do occur from
appliances other than just gas boilers. For instance, a
study by Hackney Homes (a housing association based in
London) raised a concern that, while gas boiler servicing
is extremely effective at improving safety, greater risks
from carbon monoxide poisoning are presented by other
gas or solid fuel burning appliances, such as gas cookers,
coal fires, etc.
Advances in technology, particularly through the use
of sensors placed in ‘smart’, web-enabled fire and CO
alarms, will make it easier - and possibly cheaper in the
long run – for landlords to offer a higher standard of care
to tenants, while managing their own liability risk more
effectively.
Gas boilers may be well-regulated and as a result
generally safe, but other gas or fuel-burning appliances
(such as gas cookers) may not be. As a result, there is
an emerging view that CO alarms should be installed in
rooms wherever fuel-burning appliances are present,
whether they belong to the landlord or tenant.
6
Move to installation of smoke alarms and
CO alarms in all social rented and privately
rented homes
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England)
Regulations 2015 came into effect on 1st October 2015
requiring smoke alarms must be installed on each storey
of privately rented properties and carbon monoxide
alarms to be fitted in each room of the privately rented
properties which contain a solid fuel burning combustion
appliance, and alarms must be checked at the start
of each new tenancy. However, these regulations do
not apply in Wales. Currently, in Wales, privately rented
properties built since 1992 must be fitted with mainspowered, inter-linked smoke detectors/alarms and
private landlords are advised to provide at least battery
operated alarms in older properties. There is also a legal
requirement for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) to
have a mains wired alarm fitted.
However, in its recent Fire and Rescue National
Framework 2016, the Welsh Government has pledged
to use the powers made available by the Renting Homes
(Wales) Act 20165 to set out regulations requiring the
installation of smoke and CO alarms in all social rented
and privately rented homes. If this step is taken, it will
mean Wales will have gone further than anywhere else in
the UK in ensuring the safety of social and private tenants
from the harmful effects of fire, smoke and CO.
Improvements in technology and the advent of offer
clear potential to improve the level of customer care and
provide a more comprehensive approach to managing
risks. Smart technology enables:
•
Alarm sensors and batteries to be automatically
and remotely tested and results/faults
communicated to the landlord on a real-time basis
•
Alerts sent if the devices are tampered with, e.g.
tenant or contractor disables the device
•
All information gathered can be retained at a
central hub. This can help inform landlord asset
management analysis and decisions, as well as
helping landlords demonstrate they comply with
their legal health and safety responsibilities
Some landlords, such as Kirklees Neighbourhood Homes
in England and River Clyde Homes in Scotland are piloting
the use of smart CO alarms that can remotely and
automatically provide 24/7 status updates on all levels of
CO emission and offer the potential for significant cost
savings as a result.
The use of such technologies has been endorsed by
the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group
(APPCOG) as they can help provide more data on carbon
monoxide and gas safety, as well as the health risks to
tenants and the landlord’s employees/contractors of
constant exposure to low levels of CO.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/anaw/2016/1/enacted/data.pdf
5
It is to be hoped that the new fiscal pressures on social
landlords will not prevent them from using planned
maintenance programmes to install CO alarms or
increased numbers of smoke alarms. This pressure on
income is being compounded by ongoing reductions in
the welfare benefits available to many households, which
will in turn further reduce income collection and deplete
resources.
One of the likely responses by social landlords is
a reduction in, or delay, to planned maintenance
programmes – the very programmes under which health
and safety upgrades normally occur.
Social landlords should consider adapting asset
management programmes to adopt an ‘invest to save’
approach, supported by technology where possible.
When conducting risk assessments aligned to any
rescheduling of planned maintenance, social landlords
should ensure that the opportunity to benefit from new
technology is not missed.
Awareness of CO risk is increasing but
landlords can do more to inform tenants of
the risk
A recent study by the Gas Safety Trust found only 13 per
cent of the general public can identify the symptoms
of carbon monoxide poisoning (headaches, vomiting,
breathlessness, weakness, confusion, chest pain – which
can be similar to flu symptoms). Regarding the ‘silent
killer’, carbon monoxide (CO), why is awareness so low of
the risks posed by a highly poisonous gas that cannot be
smelled, tasted or seen?
Residents of social housing are a particularly highrisk group for CO poisoning, so steps taken by social
landlords to ensure residents are aware of the dangers of
CO are therefore particularly important.
Social landlords play a ‘trusted messenger’ role in their
communities. They can thus play an important part
in effectively communicating to residents about the
dangers posed by fire, gas and carbon monoxide and
how best to deal with them safely.
The importance of this role in effectively communicating
the dangers posed by CO poisoning in particular, has
been highlighted by APPCOG.
A MOT-style approach to gas safety checks
would be helpful
Social landlords – particularly via the Gas Access
Campaign, led by Home Group CEO Mark Henderson and gas safety managers have called for a new approach
to gas safety checks.
An MOT-style system means that gas safety checks
could be carried out up to one month before the expiry of
the current gas safety check record, but the new safety
check record would be dated such that it is valid for a full
twelve months from the expiry date of the current safety
check record.
The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) has, in principle,
approved this move to an MOT style of LGSR (Landlord
Gas Safety Record) for the landlords’ annual gas safety
checks.
Social landlord respondents to this research fully
supported with the Welsh Government’s pledge.
Executive Summary
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Executive Summary
7
Executive Summary
Improved gas, fire and CO safety access
rights are required by landlords
These rules differ depending on a number
of factors such as:
The Gas Access Campaign has also called for housing
associations to receive the same legal powers of rapid
access as local authorities, in cases where tenants
refuse to grant access. At this point in time, however, the
Government is not minded to adopt this approach
• Tenure - e.g. social housing, private rented
Rationalisation of health and safety rules
and regulations could improve resident
safety
8
At present, social landlords and their tenants face a
myriad of rules and regulations concerning fire, gas
and carbon monoxide safety in their homes - as well as
dealing with an array of organisations responsible for
monitoring and enforcing the regulations. At present,
updates to regulation require to be cross-referenced with
previous guidance, thus introducing scope for error.
•Property type - e.g. HMO, sheltered housing,
residential care home, single property dwelling,
new build or existing property
Regulations on fire safety are monitored and enforced
by local authorities and the relevant Welsh regional fire
service (there are three6). Regulations on gas safety
are monitored and enforced by the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) and the Housing Regulatory Team at
Welsh Government.
Overview on
fire safety
There is a general desire among social landlords for
legislation and regulations to be more easily accessible.
One suggestion was a simple ‘grid’ approach that could
be used by landlords and their contractors that would
contain all relevant fire, gas and carbon monoxide duties
in one place. Further detail could then be linked to and
explored as required. This guide provides a simple grid for
illustrative purposes.
9
6 South Wales Fire and Rescue Service serves the ten unitary
authority areas of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff,
Monmouth, Merthyr, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Torfaen and the
Vale of Glamorgan. North Wales Fire and Rescue Service serves
Gwynedd and Ynys Môn, Conwy and Denbighshire and Wrexham
and Flintshire. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service serves
Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire,
Powys, and Swansea.
Executive Summary
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
Overview on fire safety
In January 2016, Wales became the
first country in the world to require
‘fire suppression systems’ – or
sprinklers – to be installed in all new
or converted homes.
10
In January 2016, Wales became the first country in
the world to require ‘fire suppression systems’ – or
sprinklers – to be installed in all new or converted
homes.
Discussing the plan two years earlier, the then Welsh
housing minister, Carl Sargeant, said: ‘Domestic fires
continue to have a devastating effect on individuals,
families and communities. It’s imperative that we do
everything we can to make our homes, care homes and
residential buildings as safe as possible. Our policy on
fire sprinklers is part of our continuing wider approach to
promoting fire safety and we will continue to set Wales
apart as leading the way in this regard.’
The Welsh Government took control of Building
Regulations from Westminster in 2011 and, to date, this
is one of the principal changes it has made (see below
for detail). The Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure
2011 was implemented in stages commencing in April
2014 with the requirement for sprinklers to be installed
in all new and converted care homes, hostels and halls
of residence.
This intervention comes against a backdrop of 17
people killed and 420 injured in 1,807 house fires in
2014/15 in Wales. This compares with 14 deaths and
565 injuries in 2,454 dwelling fires in 20067.
This section outlines the key legislation and regulations
social and private landlords are required to adhere to
in Wales as regards fire safety. This should be read in
conjunction with the reference guide on page 42, which
illustrates what standards landlords are required to meet
at present and any changes that are coming in future.
This table demonstrates an issue highlighted by a
number of respondents: the complexity of the challenge
they face in ensuring they comply with the myriad rules
and regulations on fire safety. All landlords spoken to
for the research invest significant sums in ensuring
they meet their legal requirements. However, several
said were the current situation to be improved, with
relevant information simplified or made clearly available
in one place, they would be able to reduce spending on
ensuring compliance and use these funds elsewhere.
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard, introduced in
2002, goes further and requires all existing social
homes to have a ‘mains-powered smoke detector with a
back-up secondary power source’ on every floor of the
property8. This requirement must be met by 2020 and
is enforced by the Housing Regulation Team at Welsh
Government. At the most recent assessment, 97.7 per
cent of all social homes in Wales meet the smoke alarm
requirement9.
Unlike in England and Scotland, there is no such
requirement in the private rented sector in Wales.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England)
Regulations 201510 that came into force on 1 October
2015 in England do not apply in Wales. However, as
noted above, Welsh Government plans to address this
matter.
The current fire regulations in Wales, as outlined below,
require social landlords to conduct regular fire risk
assessments for dwellings with communal areas that
are accessible to the public. These include communal
areas of blocks of flats as well as care homes and
sheltered housing.
The 2004 Housing Act introduced the Housing Health
and Safety Rating System. This is the tool for assessing
the living conditions of a property. The system is based
on 29 possible hazards to be assessed in terms of the
risk faced by the most vulnerable occupier or potential
vulnerable occupier of a property (see below).
7https://statswales.wales.gov.uk/Catalogue/Community-Safety-andSocial-Inclusion/Community-Safety/Fire-Incidents/Fires-and-FalseAlarms/fires-by-detailedlocation-financialyear-area
8 http://www.housinglin.org.uk/_library/Resources/Housing/Regions/
Wales/housingwhqsguide.pdf
9 http://gov.wales/docs/statistics/2015/151008-welsh-housing-qualitystandard-31-march-2015-en.pdf
10 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbonmonoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords
As with other parts of the UK, there is no common fire
safety standard across all tenures. Since 1992, Building
Regulations (part B) have required all new homes to have
at least one smoke alarm installed per storey.
Overview on fire safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
11
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
new and upgraded dwellings
Building Regulations (England and Wales)
These regulations form the basis of requirements
for new and upgraded dwellings across England and
Wales.
New, extended and remodelled homes have to comply
with the Building Regulations. Part B of the regulations
covers fire safety. For blocks of flats, the Building
Regulations 2010 make requirements for various fire
safety measures, including means of escape, structural
fire precautions, smoke control and facilities for the fire
and rescue services.
After the dwelling is occupied, control of fire safety is
covered by the Housing Act 2004 (including the Housing
Health and Safety Rating System) and the Regulatory
Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
12
In terms of requirements for new homes and individual
flats, Part B of the Building Regulations 2010 says there
must be a fire alarm, smoke control arrangements
such as ventilation systems, a smoke detector and
emergency escape lighting.
The key difference between Part B of the Building
Regulation in Wales and its English equivalent is the
requirement for sprinklers in residential buildings.
In 2013 changes were announced11 to the Building
Regulations to require automatic fire suppression
systems in residential buildings (regulation 37A).
Subsequently, Wales has required sprinklers in buildings
such as new and converted care homes, hostels and
halls of residence since April 2014.
The April 2014 requirement applied to new and
converted:
•
Care homes (as defined in the Care Standards
Act 2000)
•
Children’s residential homes
•
Hospices
•
Houses
•
Flats
•
Any other residential purpose.
There is no requirement to retrofit sprinklers to existing
high-rise blocks.
Building Regulations also apply to alterations, as
inappropriate and unauthorised alterations can
undermine the measures provided to ensure safety of
occupants from fire. Significant or ‘material’ alterations
must be approved by Local Authority Building Control.
As Local Government Association guidance says:
‘Sometimes it can be difficult for the responsible
person to judge whether or not an alteration is material.
In practice, any proposals to carry out alterations – to
fire alarm systems, means of escape or smoke control
arrangements, structural alterations and alterations
to facilities for the fire and rescue service – should be
submitted to a building control body to determine if
approval is necessary. A common contravention is the
replacement of a self-closing, fire-resisting flat entrance
door by a non-fire-resisting door or by a door that is not
self-closing12.
Under the Building Regulations 2010, new homes must
have at least one smoke alarm on every storey of a
property.
LGA guidance concerning blocks of flats says: ‘Only in
unusual circumstances will a communal fire detection
and alarm system be appropriate for a ‘general needs’
purpose-built block of flats.’
11 http://gov.wales/topics/planning/buildingregs/approveddocuments/part-b-fire/?lang=en
12 Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats, Local Government
Association, May 2012 http://www.local.gov.uk/c/document_library/
Social and private landlords have major
responsibilities relating to fire safety in housing
and these are covered under two key pieces of
legislation:
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS13)
set out in the Housing Act 2004 – enforced by the local
authority, usually through the Environmental Health
department. Responsibilities are set out in two places:
a guide14 by the now defunct body Local Authorities
Coordinators of Regulatory Services; and in Fire safety
in purpose-built blocks of flats, drawn up by the Local
Government Association15.
•
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 200516
and the Fire and Rescue Services Act 200417 is
enforced by the local fire and rescue service and
sets out minimum requirements for places of
work. Although its focus is primarily non domestic
property, its scope does extend to common
areas of blocks of flats as well as houses in
multiple occupation (HMO), sheltered housing and
residential care homes.
•
Fire and Rescue National Framework 2016 – This is
a guidance document regularly published by the
Welsh Government, which sets out the priorities
and objectives for the three FRAs. This publication
suggests the Welsh Government intends to
enforce the installation of smoke alarms in all
homes through powers available in the Renting
Homes (Wales) Act 2016.
•
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard – this
was implemented from 2002 and, among other
measures, requires all social homes to have a
smoke detector on every floor18.
13 The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) set out in
the Housing Act 2004 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/
part/1/chapter/1/data.pdf
14L ACORS Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of
existing housing, 2008
15Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats, Local Government
Association, May 2012 http://www.local.gov.uk/c/document_library/
get_file?uuid=1138bf70-2e50-400c-bf81-9a3c4dbd6575
16 The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) set out in
the Housing Act 2004 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/
part/1/chapter/1/data.pdf
17The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/
ukpga/2004/21/data.pdf
18http://gov.wales/docs/desh/publications/141030-whqs-guide-forsocial-landlords-en.pdf
get_file?uuid=1138bf70-2e50-400c-bf81-9a3c4dbd6575
•
Boarding houses
•
Halls of residences
•
Hostels, other than hostels intended for
temporary accommodation for leisure purposes
(e.g. not Youth Hostels or backpackers’ hostels).
Overview on fire safety
And, from 1 January 2016 the requirement applied to
new and converted:
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
13
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
The Housing Act 2004 and Housing Health and
Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The measures covering fire safety in the Housing Act
2004 apply to all dwellings in England and Wales. The
Act introduced a Housing Health and Safety Ratings
System (HHSRS)19, which applies to residential premises,
meaning:
14
•
a dwelling
•
an HMO
•
unoccupied HMO accommodation
•
any common parts of a building containing one or
more flats
This is the tool for assessing the living conditions of a
property. The system is based on twenty-nine possible
hazards to be assessed in terms of the risk faced by
the most vulnerable occupier or potential vulnerable
occupier of a property.
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
General fire precautions include:
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
•
measures to reduce the risk of fire occurring
•
measures to reduce the spread of any fire
through the premises
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 or ‘the
Fire Safety Order’ applies across England and Wales
and came into force on 1 October 200621.
•
means of escape and their safe use at all times
•
firefighting
•
means of fire detection and warning - action to
be taken in the event of fire and mitigating the
effects of fire.
19The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) set out in the
Housing Act 2004 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/
part/1/chapter/1/data.pdf
20The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.http://www.
legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1541/contents/made
The HHSRS provides a means of assessing dwellings,
the risks present and whether that risk is acceptable.
Hazard bands have been devised with group ranges of
scores, ranging from bands A to J, with band A being the
most dangerous and J the safest.
Under this legislation, local authorities require landlords
to remedy the most serious hazards, which include fire
risks such as defective heating and electrical systems.
In addition, the Welsh Housing Quality Standard –
the set of requirements for social housing in Wales
implemented in 2002 and due for completion by 2020 –
also takes account of the HHSRS.
Under the Housing Act 2004, the local housing authority
is responsible for fire safety in residential premises.
However, the legislation also covers common parts of
the building and HMOs, overlapping with fire authorities’
legislation. As a result, confusion often arises over
which authority has primacy, but both regulatory bodies
normally try to work closely together20.
In terms of social landlords, the Regulatory Reform
(Fire Safety) Order 2005 introduced duties in relation
to fire safety in the common areas of houses in
multiple occupation, flats, maisonettes and sheltered
accommodation in which personal care is not provided.
Common parts of blocks, include corridors, stairs, any
communal recreational areas, bin stores, underground
car parks, and so on.
The local fire and rescue service is responsible (under
the 2005 Order) for enforcing all fire safety matters in
common parts of blocks, including corridors, stairs, any
communal recreational areas, bin stores, underground
car parks, and so on.
21http://www.hse.gov.uk/event-safety/fire-safety.htm
22http://www.anthonycollins.com/printpdf/briefings/social-landlordsand-fire-safety-flats-after-lakanal-house
In residential buildings, the Order only applies to the
common parts of flats and the front doors to living areas.
In houses in multiple occupation, it applies to both the
living and communal areas. Individual private dwellings
are not covered by the Fire Safety Order (see Housing
Health and Safety Rating System, above).
15
The law places a duty on social landlords to ensure
they carry out fire safety assessments and act on
the recommendations. Fire authorities can carry out
inspections of buildings, check the landlord’s own fire
risk assessment and demand changes. They can also
serve enforcement orders if landlords do not comply with
legislation.
However, as John Turner, regulatory lead at Anthony
Collins Solicitors, has pointed out, the Fire Safety Order
has sometimes proved difficult to follow because it
only covers the common parts of a landlord’s premises
and stops short at the tenants’ or leaseholders’ front
doors22. He said: ‘Tenants and leaseholders have no legal
obligations at all under the Fire Safety Order and neither
the landlord nor the fire service have any rights of entry or
enforcement inside leasehold flats themselves.’
The local authority may make requirements for
improvements in fire precautions. In the event of serious
risk, the local authority has the power to take emergency
remedial action.
Overview on fire safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
Case Study:
Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd Cyf
Fire: ‘Safe to Stay’ Policy
Case Study:
Peabody
Fire Risk Management
In 2014, Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd Cyf (CCG)
decided to introduce a 'Safe to Stay' Policy:
Peabody (a London based housing association)
has 1,738 purpose built blocks of flats that require
fire risk assessments as defined by the Regulatory
Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, writes Robert Groom,
fire risk manager, Peabody. Our portfolio covers
residential blocks, street conversions, community
buildings, offices and sheltered housing schemes.
Currently, 98.9% of our properties have current fire
risk assessments - the remaining properties are
undergoing refurbishment and will be inspected when
the works are completed. We also have a detailed fire
risk assessment re-inspection programme which
ensures that assessments are re-inspected within the
time frames detailed in the current fire risk assessment.
•
•
•
•
•
16
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
to achieve full compliance with fire management
and other requirements of the Regulatory Reform
(Fire Safety) Order 2005
to introduce a new model of fire management in
purpose-built flats
following discussions with the North Wales Fire
Authority
taking into account the LGA guidance “Fire safety
in Purpose Built Blocks of Flats”.
following lengthy consultation with the Board, and
– via the Quality Customer Services Forum and the
Repairs Forum.
To execute the policy, CCG committed to an
investment programme in excess of £900K with the
aim of achieving full compartmentalisation.
Lowri Ann James, Head of HSQE at CCG said: “CCG
has fully backed this project with the resources to
introduce this new model of fire management within
our purpose built blocks of flats. The general approach
within CCG has now changed considerably from one
driven by the Fire and Rescue Service interventions
to one that is now driven internally by CCG. This has
created a much more robust and effective approach to
fire management.”
She added, “As part of this project, further policies have
been introduced to support the ‘Safe to Stay’ Policy. A
Scooter Policy has been developed which now allows
for alternative provisions such as scooter stores for
tenants with mobility vehicles. This has greatly reduced
the risks that were previously present within the
communal areas, where scooters posed a problem in
relation to re-charging and blocking important escape
routes. The management of bin stores has been greatly
improved and evacuation routes and communal areas
are now being managed far more effectively.”
Overview on fire safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
As a result of our approach, in 2014/15 there were only
42 accidental and arson fires reported. We only had 12
fires within our dwellings, which relates to 0.04% of our
total stock and is well below the national average.
How do we approach fire safety? Following a review
in 2012/13, Peabody opted to have an internal Fire
Risk Team, which ensures a consistent approach
to the assessment process and the accompanying
documents. Our fire risk assessments comply with the
guidance detailed in PAS 79 and are made up of 2 parts:
the fire risk assessment and an action plan. All our fire
risk assessments undergo a rigorous quality assurance
process to ensure these documents are accurate and
compliant.
The action plan details any significant findings that
require rectification with time frames for completion.
In 2014/15 Peabody provided an £11 million budget
to carry our fire safety structural improvements to our
properties.
Peabody has a Corporate Fire Safety Policy, which
outlines the process by which our Executive
Committee and management devolve their
responsibilities for fire safety with regard to our
residents, employees, service users, visitors and
contractors, who have access to our buildings.
Peabody’s fire safety policy is to take general fire
precautions within all buildings under our direct
control, to reduce the risk to people, property and
the environment from fire to as low as possible and to
ensure compliance with current statutory legislation.
Peabody also has a fire risk management system
which is an organised systematic decision-making
process that efficiently identifies risks, assesses, or
analyses risks, and effectively produces mitigation
plans to reduce or eliminate these risks and to achieve
reasonable and practicable levels of fire safety.
The fire risk management system is a series of policies
and procedures which follow the guidance detailed in
PAS 7: 2013 Fire Risk Management Systems.
For instance, I am responsible for the implementation
of the following sections of the FRMS: Communication
(Residents, Staff, Visitors and the London Fire Brigade);
Fire Risk Assessment Programme and Process
(processing and delivering the actions coming
out of the fire risk assessments rests with the Fire
Precautions and Asbestos Team); and Training.
The areas covered by the fire risk management
system are:
•
Fire Safety Management Roles and
Responsibilities
•
Communication
•
Fire Risk Assessment Programme and Process
•
Training
•
Work Control
•
Maintenance and Testing
•
Emergency Planning
We have a bespoke annual fire safety awareness
training programme for the different areas of the
business that visit our buildings or engage with our
residents. The aim of this training is to make staff aware
of the fire risks present when carrying out their work
e.g. Neighbourhood Managers and Caretakers are
made aware of the management of the common areas,
and arson risks in and around our buildings. We also
have an e-learning fire safety awareness programme
for all staff.
Finally, Peabody’s fire risk management system is
externally audited or reviewed every two years to
assure that it is effective and compliant with current
legislation, guidance and best practice. >
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
17
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
The Fire Safety Order places the emphasis on risk
reduction and fire prevention and covers:
•
Measures to reduce the risk of fire and the risk
of spread of fire
A fire risk assessment must cover:
•
ways to reduce the risks
•
effects and spread of fire
•
The means of escape from fire
•
safe escape routes
•
The measures necessary to assist people
in the use of the escape routes, such as
emergency escape lighting, fire exit signs
and measures for smoke control. Some of
these measures may not be necessary in all
buildings: for example, where escape routes
are straightforward, easily identifiable and
likely to be well-known to occupants, fire exit
signs will normally be unnecessary
•
an emergency plan; and
•
firefighters’ facilities
•
18
Where necessary, fire extinguishing
appliances. These are not normally necessary
within common parts, but might be necessary
within a plant room, caretaker’s office or other
non-domestic parts of the block
•
Any fire alarm system necessary to ensure the
safety of occupants
•
An emergency plan. In a small block of flats,
this may be as simple as a fire action notice, but
it is important that the procedure to adopt in
the event of fire is disseminated to all residents
•
Maintenance of all of the above measures
•
Maintenance of measures required by
legislation (including the Building Regulations)
for the safety of, or use by, fire-fighters. The
Fire Safety Order requires that the appropriate
fire safety measures are determined by means
of a fire risk assessment. The LGA guidance
says the fire risk assessment must be ‘suitable
and sufficient’ to ensure that the general
duty of fire safety care is satisfied within the
common parts. It also covers hiring specialist
fire risk assessors and training in-house staff
to become assessors.
Overview on fire safety
The maintenance of all these measures must be
carried out by a competent person to ensure there are
adequate fire safety measures in the areas of the block
where the order applies.
The LGA guide suggests that the fire risk assessments
of low-rise blocks might be reviewed every two years,
with a new assessment taking place every four years.
Higher-risk blocks over four storeys might be reviewed
annually with a new assessment every three years, and
the highest-risk blocks should be reviewed annually
and reassessed every two years.
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
The Fire and Rescue National Framework 2016
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS)
This latest version of the Welsh Government’s priorities
and objectives for the country’s three Fire and Rescue
Authorities (FRAs) was published in November 201523.
The WHQS was introduced in 2002 and requires a ‘mainspowered smoke detector with a back-up secondary
power source’ on every floor of the property by 202024.
The most recent update found this stipulation has been
met by 97.7 per cent of Welsh social landlords25.
The National Framework 2016 sets out a number of
aims for FRAs around ‘reducing risk and enhancing the
safety of citizens and communities’. It’s status, however,
is guidance for FRAs, so the measures it outlines are not
statutory requirements.
Although the recent Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016
contained no specific measures on the installation
of smoke alarms, it empowered ministers to do so by
regulation. Indeed, the National Framework does make
the following points:
‘The fitting of smoke alarms in both private and rented
properties is critical. Having working smoke alarms in
all rented homes in Wales has clear potential to prevent
death and injury to tenants, and damage to their property
and that of landlords.’
‘The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 places an
obligation on all landlords to ensure a rented dwelling
is fit for human habitation and includes a power for the
Welsh Ministers to prescribe in regulations specific
requirements to meet this obligation. The Welsh
Government intends to prescribe requirements in
relation to the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide
detectors.’
23http://gov.wales/docs/dsjlg/publications/fire/151125-fire-rescueframework-2016-en.pdf
24http://gov.wales/docs/desh/publications/141030-whqs-guide-forsocial-landlords-en.pdf
25http://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/welsh-housing-qualitystandard/?lang=en
Case Study
Merthyr Valleys Homes
Complying with the WHQS
‘We have a range of compliance items we monitor:
fire risk, legionella, gas safety, electrics, stair lifts,
playgrounds and, as we own thousands of trees, we
also monitor trees,’ said Mike Owen, chief executive of
Merthyr Valleys Homes.
Welsh social landlords have to comply with the Welsh
Housing Quality Standard. Merthyr Valleys Homes has
invested around £750,000 in fire safety works over
three years. Much of this is investment in ensuring
‘compartmentalisation’ - to prevent smoke transfer in
medium and high-rise blocks - and the installation of
sprinklers.
Mr Owen said his organisation works closely with
fire and rescue services – and always takes advice.
‘We want our homes to be as safe as possible for our
tenants and the last thing you want is to be served with
a fire notice.’
Every property is hard-wired with smoke detectors as
part of meeting the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.
These are checked annually within the gas servicing
process and 100 per cent of households have gas
certificates.
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
19
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
Case Study:
Hyde
Fire Risk Assessments
20
Hyde (a London based housing association with
approximately 44,000 properties) undertakes
3,000 plus a year Type 1 fire risk assessments in
order to discharge its statutory duties in respect
of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
A Type 126 fire risk assessment is the basic fire risk
assessment required for the purpose of satisfying the
Fire Safety Order. Unless there is a reason to expect
serious deficiencies in structural fire protection, a
Type 1 inspection will normally be sufficient for most
purpose-built blocks of flats. The inspection of the
building is non-destructive, but even this basic fire risk
assessment will include an examination of at least a
sample of flat entrance doors since these are critical
to the protection of the common parts. Where there
are demountable false ceilings in the common parts, it
may be appropriate to lift a sample of readily accessible
false ceiling tiles.
Over and above this, Hyde has a Type 4 (intrusive)’
assessment process in place for properties housing
vulnerable residents and those of a complex
construction. A Type 4 fire risk assessment has the
same scope of work as a Type 327 fire risk assessment,
except that it also involves a degree of destructive
inspection in both the common parts and the flats,
carried out on a sampling basis.
In addition, Hyde has also actively engaged with the
Chief Fire Officers Association in the review of BS
9991:2015 ‘Fire safety in the design, management and
use of residential buildings’ and is a member of the High
Risk Accommodation Group.
Concerns have nevertheless been expressed in the
housing sector about the scarcity of in-house skills
available to conduct fire risk assessments. This has
meant that the quality of assessments can vary. In
response, the National Social Housing Fire Strategy
Group has developed a suite of qualifications covering
Fire Risk Management28.
26 Similar to a Type 1 fire risk assessment a Type 2 fire risk
assessment relates to the protection of the common parts, but
the Type 2 inspection involves a degree of destructive exposure,
usually necessitating the presence of a contractor to open up
construction and make good after the inspection. The destructive
inspection might include work within vacant flats to check the
integrity of the separating construction that protects the common
parts. This type of inspection would be carried out only if there is
good reason to suspect serious structural deficiencies that could
lead to the spread of fire beyond the flat of fire origin.
27 A Type 3 fire risk assessment includes the work involved in a
Type 1 fire risk assessment, and is also non-destructive, but goes
beyond the scope of the Fire Safety Order by considering the fire
precautions, such as means of escape and fire detection, within at
least a sample of flats. This type of fire risk assessment will not be
possible in the case of long-leasehold flats, as there is normally no
Fire legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing dwellings
Sprinkler systems and Domestic Fire Safety (Wales)
Measure 2011
Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer, South Wales Fire and
Rescue Service (SWFRS), said:
The requirement for a sprinkler system to be installed
in all new or converted homes was one of the first acts
introduced by the Welsh Government, in the Domestic
Fire Safety (Wales) Measure 201129, when it took devolved
control of Building Regulations in 2011.
‘Fire sprinklers save lives and enhance the safety of
occupants and Firefighters. Whilst the ownership of
working domestic smoke alarms has had a substantial
impact on fire deaths and injuries in the home, more
remains to be done.
Wales was the first country in the world to take such
a step. Information on this is contained in Approved
Documents Part B (Fire Safety) volume 1 on dwelling
houses30.
‘Statistics show that 53 per cent of fire deaths occur in
the room where the fire started. This begs the question
whether the victims of these fires were able to leave the
room where the fire was, if they were not then clearly
the only effective measure is one which controls or
extinguishes the fire at a very early stage… This will
ultimately increase the safety of the citizens and fire-fighters of Wales.’
Welsh Government then commenced a two-year pilot
study of the impact of installing sprinkler systems in
social housing in June 2014 - monitoring installations at
177 homes across 12 housing schemes.
Speaking in December 2015 at the launch of an interim
report by the BRE for the Welsh Government31, Carl
Sargeant, housing minister, said: ‘Analysis has shown
that installing sprinklers in new homes reduces avoidable
death or injury arising from fires. The installation of fire
sprinkler systems will go a long way towards minimising
the risk of fire devastation. They are proven to help save
lives.’
Mr Sargeant said that construction costs were increased
by the sprinkler requirement, but ‘the reduced risk of
damage to the property, combined with their proven
ability to save lives, make them a cost effective means of
fire control in new homes’.
Interim findings from the BRE report were as follows:
•
Where communication and co-operation is good
between all stakeholders, the sprinkler installation
can be quick and efficient
•
Water supply choices for the sprinkler system had
not been confirmed at the pre-installation phase
with all stakeholders – including water companies
– resulting in delays, difficulties and potentially
higher costs
•
For mains-fed sprinkler systems, installation
costs varied between £1,440 per flat (20 flats) in
a five-storey block to £1,810 in a four-bedroom,
two-storey house
•
For sprinkler systems with a booster, installation
costs varied between £3,170 for a three-bedroom,
two storey house, to £3,541 per flat (four flats) in a
two-storey block.
right of access for freeholders.
A Type 4 fire risk assessment is the most
comprehensive fire risk assessment possible. This
type of assessment is also appropriate when a new
landlord takes over a block of flats in which the history
of work carried out is unknown and there is a reason to
suspect serious risk to residents from both a fire in their
own flats and a fire in neighbours’ flats.
28 http://www.shfsg.info/fire-risk-management-qualifications/
29 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/mwa/2011/3/section/1
30 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-approveddocument-b
In May 2014 Hyde entered into a Primary Authority
Partnership with London Fire Brigade. The partnership
provides Hyde with a regulator's review of the fire safety
arrangements in place and a consistent enforcement
approach to a geographically diverse property
portfolio. In November 2014, Hyde entered into a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with London
Fire Brigade. The MOU is a commitment by both parties
to share information in order to ensure a consistent and
joint approach to mitigating the fire risks faced by the
most vulnerable in society.
Overview on fire safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Scottish Welsh landlords need to know
31 http://gov.wales/topics/planning/buildingregs/publications/welshgovernment-sprinkler-pilot-study-interim-report/?lang=en
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
21
Discussion points:
Fire safety
Discussion points:
Fire safety
Fire safety after Lakanal House and Shirley
Towers
Fire safety rose up social landlords’ list of priorities after
six people died in a blaze at the council-owned Lakanal
House tower block in the London Borough of Southwark
in 2009. This intensified when a blaze in the Shirley
Towers high-rise block, owned by Southampton Council
killed two fire fighters in April 2010.
Many Welsh social landlords are members of the
National Social Housing Fire Strategy Group (NSHFSG)32,
which represents 188 landlords and more than 1.7
million homes across England and Wales. This group
was formed in the aftermath of these two fatal high-rise
fires.
22
The NSHFSG aims to offer a voice for social landlords on
fire safety and influence policy development. Although
much of the safety framework that applied to housing
providers was in place long before these tragic events,
they sharply focused attention on fire precautions.
Nick Cross, former head of housing services at
Southampton City Council, said: ‘The key issue for us is
not so much what contractors do – it’s us making sure
the correct checks are in place at the right time by us
and our representatives to ensure the fire stopping has
been undertaken.’
This is a point echoed by Mike Owen, chief executive of
Merthyr Valleys Homes. Mr Owen said Merthyr Valleys
had invested around £750,000 in fire safety works over
three years - much of which had gone on ensuring
effective ‘compartmentalisation’ in medium and highrise blocks to prevent smoke transfer.
Mr Cross added that he and his colleagues at
Southampton remain completely focused on the issues
surrounding fire safety, since the Shirley Towers fire.
a concern that health and safety compliance and issues
connected to it may slip down the pecking order with
competing priorities.’
32http://www.shfsg.info/
Case Study
Southern Housing Group
Southern Housing Group (an English housing
association with almost 20,000 properties) is keen
to make its tenants feel they live in a warm and
welcoming environment, but, this can run the risk
of falling foul of legislation in relation to allowing
objects in communal areas which could potentially
be deemed a fire hazard.
Rachel Bancroft, group health and safety manager
at Southern Housing Group, said the landlord
adopts a ‘managed approach’ to the issue. For
instance, in its corridors Southern might allow a
picture and a doormat and a potted plant. Southern
then produces fliers showing pictures of what’s
acceptable and what isn’t. Southern has regular
communications with tenants about fire safety
through communal newsletters.
Bancroft said: ‘I know some landlords might say it’s
easier to go for zero tolerance, but we never wanted
that. We want residents to take ownership. We
don’t want our residents to feel they are living in a
hospital.’
However, he said this was perhaps not the case for other
council landlords. ‘My sense is that other councils are
not talking much about fire safety or health and safety
issues. There was a real focus after the fires at Lakanal
House and Shirley Towers, but for the past couple of
years this hasn’t been the case.’
Mr Cross said a reason for this was the tough financial
times local authorities were currently experiencing. ‘The
financial environment is a clear factor now and it will be
Overview on fire safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Case Study
Hyde Group
Hyde owns and manages 44,000 homes in London
and the South East. It has recently overhauled the
approach of its health and safety compliance team
to ensure it is providing its tenants and residents the
safest possible environment.
Liz Dunn is Hyde’s compliance manager and, since
joining the landlord in early 2015, has conducted
a thorough review of all aspects of its compliance
work. As a result, the compliance team has grown
from two full-time staff to eight contract managers.
Liz said the focus on gas safety and ensuring fire
risk assessments are correctly acted upon were
a key part of the expansion of the team. This has
become particularly important in light of recent
regulatory action in these areas involving other
landlords.
‘We are aware of the level of risk we face and
complexity of regulations and various pieces of
legislation,’ she said. ‘We don’t want to do anything
less than full compliance across all areas. Hyde has
put its money where its mouth is and backed us with
the resources we need to deliver in this crucial area
of tenant safety.
’
When the regulator compiles its annual assessment
of an association, it will check the extent to which the
landlord is adequately assessing health and safety
risks. Were a landlord to be found to be failing in an area
such as fire or gas safety, for instance, this could form
the basis for regulatory action. When the regulator
compiles its regular report on associations, it will check
the extent to which the landlord is adequately assessing
health and safety risks. In some instances, this will see
the regulator warn a housing association that it needs to
formalise its fire safety plan, or similar.
Board members will want to ensure their executive
team is managing the risk around delivery outcomes
by conducting regular fire risk assessments and swiftly
acting on their findings, or that clear policies and
procedures are in place so that a landlord is not simply
passing responsibility for fire safety to tenants.
33 http://gov.wales/topics/housing-and-regeneration/services-andsupport/regulation/regulatory-board-for-wales/?lang=en
34 http://gov.wales/docs/desh/
publications/111202housingregframeworken.pdf (pages 18-21)
35 http://gov.wales/docs/desh/publications/160331-sector-risksfacing-housing-associations-en.pdf
Regulation and Governance
From April 2016, this governance work has been
overseen by the Regulatory Board for Wales33. Housing
association boardsare responsible for ensuring their
organisation complies with its responsibilities, as set out
in The Regulatory Framework for Housing Associations
Registered in Wales (December 2011)34.
If the regulator deems a housing association has failed
to meet a 'delivery outcome', this gives it grounds
for the use of its enforcement powers. The Landlord
Services section of the list of delivery outcomes states:
‘[Landlords] deliver maintenance programmes efficiently
and effectively.’
Recent regulatory guidance35 on risks facing the
housing sector in Wales also states that the regulator
‘expects’ the board to contribute to ‘the delivery of
service outcomes in relation to the duty of care/health
and safety [of tenants] e.g. fire safety and gas servicing’.
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
23
Discussion points:
Fire safety
Discussion points:
Fire safety
Complexity of rules and regulations
As the table on page 42 demonstrates, there are several
items of legislation and accompanying regulations
and guidance that social landlords must keep on top
of if they are to comply with their legal obligations on
fire safety. At present, updates to regulation require
to be cross-referenced with previous guidance, thus
introducing scope for error. Several respondents to the
research identified this as an area where less complexity
would simplify the role of compliance, without reducing
tenant safety.
A clearer and more straightforward set of requirements
for landlords would also have the benefit of potentially
freeing up resources otherwise expended on ensuring
legal compliance.
24
One suggestion was a simple ‘grid’ approach that could
be used by landlords and their contractors that would
contain all relevant fire, gas and carbon monoxide duties
in one place. Further detail could then be linked to and
explored as required. The table on page 42 provides a
suggested template.
Fire safety after Lakanal House
and Shirley Towers
Fire safety rose up social landlords’ list of priorities after
six people died in a blaze at the council-owned Lakanal
House tower block in the London Borough of Southwark
in 2009. This intensified when a blaze in the Shirley
Towers high-rise block, owned by Southampton Council
killed two fire fighters in April 2010.
Although much of the safety framework that applied
to housing providers was in place long before these
tragic events, they sharply focused attention on fire
precautions.
As one interviewee said: ‘The number one issue is what
happened with the decent homes programme and
how can you guarantee the work didn’t compromise
on safety. A lot of time was spent snagging, no doubt,
but the process didn’t necessarily involve checking
compartmentations and whether the work had
compromised the [fire safety of the] whole block.’
Nick Cross, then head of housing services at
Southampton City Council, agreed saying: ‘The key
issue for us now is not so much what contractors do –
it’s us making sure the correct checks are in place at the
right time by us and our representatives to ensure the
fire stopping has been undertaken.’
Mr Cross added that he and his colleagues at
Southampton remain completely focused on the issues
surrounding fire safety, since the Shirley Towers fire.
However, he said this was perhaps not the case for other
council landlords. ‘My sense is that other councils are
not talking much about fire safety or health and safety
issues. There was a real focus after the fires at Lakanal
House and Shirley Towers, but for the past couple of
years this hasn’t been the case.’
Fire safety notices
Inside Housing’s Safe as Houses campaign in October
2009 carried out a survey which found that one in five
social landlords had stepped up fire safety work on their
tower blocks following the Lakanal House disaster.18
The magazine reported in Fire safety under scrutiny
(Inside Housing 16 May 2014) that the London Fire
Brigade handed out 35 fire safety enforcement notices
against social landlords in the year to March 2014.
These notices were issued in cases where a landlord
in England breaches fire safety laws – specifically the
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Of the
1,948 inspections of blocks of flats of four storeys or
higher in England, 20 per cent of residences were found
to require a variety of improvements. Only four of the 35
notices for social landlords in England were served on
local authorities, with 28 given to housing associations
(two were served against housing charities and one
against an arm’s-length management organisation).
Social landlords we spoke to said that there were
a number of reasons for the apparent difference
in performance between councils and housing
associations. These included differing approaches to
obstruction in corridors (considered a fire risk – see
below) and, in some instances, more focused political
scrutiny on the safety of the housing service. However,
this is not always the case as the testimony from
Southampton’s former head of housing demonstrates
18Fire safety under scrutiny, Inside Housing, 16 May 2014,
http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/home/analysis/fire-safetyunderscrutiny/7003770.article
Mr Cross said a reason for this was the tough financial
times local authorities were currently experiencing. ‘The
financial environment is a clear factor now and it will be
a concern that health and safety compliance and issues
connected to it may slip down the pecking order with
competing priorities.’
Overview on fire safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Scottish social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on fire safety
Overview on fire safety
25
Overview
on carbon
monoxide
and gas
safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
27
Overview on carbon monoxide
and gas safety
28
Carbon monoxide is known as the
silent killer, with 60 accidental CO
deaths recorded in England and
Wales in 2013. The Department
of Health estimating 4,000 people
attended A&E the same year after
suffering CO poisoning.
Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer, with 60
accidental CO deaths recorded in England and Wales
in 201336. The Department of Health estimating 4,000
people attended A&E the same year after suffering CO
poisoning. Although the fatalities are down from 45 a
year in 2001, figures have fluctuated in recent years
and there is a view that the statistics could be more
accurate.
Despite the risks presented by an odourless and
colourless gas, a recent survey in 2014 of the general
public by the Gas Safety Trust, found only 13 per cent
of 2,000 respondents were aware of the symptoms of
CO poisoning (headaches, vomiting, breathlessness,
weakness, confusion, chest pain – can be similar to flu
symptoms)37.
A report in January 2015 by the All-Party Parliamentary
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Group found a widespread
lack of awareness among members of the public that
CO is also produced by fuel-burning appliances other
than gas boilers, such as wood-burning stoves or gas
cookers38.
It is also the case that recent studies have found a
lack of awareness in the medical profession of the
symptoms of CO poisoning. The APPCOG has, again,
been prominent in this area39. Despite this situation,
a 2015 report40 by Kings College London and Public
Health England found a pattern of increasing CO
poisoning admissions to hospital with increasing levels
of deprivation. As social housing tends to be in more
deprived areas, this finding suggests social tenants are
therefore at higher risk of CO poisoning.
At present there is no requirement for social landlords
in Wales to install CO alarms in all homes. As with
regulations recently introduced in England through
changes to Part J of the Building Regulations41, a CO
alarm is required in every room whenever a new or
replacement solid fuel-burning appliance (such as a
wood-burning stove) is installed. However, this excludes
other types of fixed combustion appliances such as gas
boilers.
It is important to note, however, that the current
situation may soon change. In the Fire and Rescue
National Framework 201642, published by the Welsh
Government in November 2015, it is clearly stated
that: ‘The Welsh Government intends to prescribe
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
requirements in relation to the installation of smoke
and carbon monoxide detectors.’ The document notes
that the recently passed Renting Homes (Wales) Act
2016 contains provisions that would allow the Welsh
Government to take such steps through regulations.
Such a move would align with the call made by the
All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide (CO) Group –
which published the Carbon Monoxide: From Awareness
to Action report in January 2015. In this report, the
APPCOG called for social landlords to be required to
meet tougher standards on CO. In its report it said:
‘Building Regulations should be amended to require
social housing providers to fit and maintain standard-compliant carbon monoxide alarms wherever
a fuel-burning appliance is installed.’
In its contribution to the research, the APPCOG
also outlined the potential for social landlords and
their operatives to play a ‘trusted messenger’ role in
spreading information about the risks of CO poisoning.
The table on page 43 clearly illustrates the scope for
confusion and the need for social landlords to keep on
top of their requirements. The benefits set out in the
previous chapter of a more straightforward approach to
compliance with fire requirements apply equally to those
for gas and carbon monoxide.
36w ww.ons.gov.uk/ons/about-ons/business-transparency/freedomof-information/what-can-i-request/published-ad-hoc-data/health/
april-2015/number-of-deaths-from-accidental-poisoning-bycarbon-monoxide.xls
37http://www.gassafetytrust.org/news-and-press/2014/a-new-gstpoll-finds-shockingly-low-understanding-of-the-symptoms From
Awareness to Action report, January 2015
38http://www.policyconnect.org.uk/appcog/research/inquirybehavioural-insights
39http://www.policyconnect.org.uk/appcog/sites/site_appcog/files/
report/549/fieldreportdownload/preventingcarbonmonoxidepoisoni
ng-anupdateonprogressmadesince2011.pdf
40http://jpubhealth.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/03/27/
pubmed.fdv026.full.pdf+html
41http://gov.wales/docs/desh/publications/130205building-regsapproved-document-j-fuel-storage-en.pdf
42http://gov.wales/topics/people-and-communities/communities/
safety/fire/national-framework/?lang=en (par. 1.9, page 8)
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
29
Gas safety and carbon monoxide
legislation, regulations and guidance:
existing, new and upgraded dwellings
Building Regulations – part J
These cover the requirements in terms of flues,
ventilation and storage for all new or refurbished homes
in England that contain combustion appliances43. Part J
was updated in October 2015 to include requirement J3
that covers the ‘warning of release of carbon monoxide
for solid fuel burning appliances’. This states: ‘Where a
new or replacement fixed solid fuel appliance is installed
in a dwelling, a carbon monoxide alarm should be
provided in the room where the appliance is located.’
This requirement on CO alarms does not extend to gasburning appliances.
Gas Safety (Installation and Use)
Regulations 1998
The key legislation covering gas safety in the UK is the
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
These specify that landlords must ensure that the gas
fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition and
that a gas safety check is carried out annually on each
appliance/flue. The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP)
and guidance gives practical advice on the Gas Safety
(Installation and Use) Regulations44.
If a tenant has concerns about gas safety, they may raise
it with Gas Safe Register (the replacement for CORGI) or
the Health and Safety Executive. http://www.hse.gov.uk/
gas/domestic/newschemecontract.htm
The HSE may make enquiries or investigate, for example
where landlords have failed to maintain gas appliances,
or where unsafe gas work has been carried out. This
may result in enforcement action where appropriate.
Further information from the HSE can be found at: http://
www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/index.htm.
30
43https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/
attachment_data/file/468872/ADJ_LOCKED.pdf
44http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l56.pdf
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Hard-wired or battery-operated alarms?
The traditional view when installing CO alarms is they are
most effective when they are hard-wired into a property,
with a battery back-up.
However, this view is changing. This is principally
because of the additional cost and disruption of
installing hard-wired alarms. Also, hard-wired alarms are
required to have a back-up battery that landlords need
to ensure is working. Such checks are usually carried out
during the annual gas service for the property.
The current thinking at some social landlords is mixed.
For some battery-powered CO alarm products are
worth exploring, as they are cheaper to install and would
require the battery to be on-site or remotely checked
anyway on at least an annual basis were they to be
hard-wired. Others are continuing with the hard wired
approach.
Case Study
Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd Cyf
Carbon monoxide detectors
Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd Cyf (CCG) supplies a
carbon monoxide detector if there is a gas, oil or solid
fuel appliance in the property. These detectors are
checked during the annual gas service and replace by
CCG if faulty or out of date.
Gareth Roberts, Mechanical & Electrical Compliance
Manager said: “Carbon monoxide alarms are a useful
back-up precaution but must not be regarded as a
substitute for proper installation and maintenance
of gas equipment. However, we strive to install hard
wired with lithium battery CO detectors to all our
homes where gas, oil or solid fuel is present in line
with the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and provide
additional units in some circumstances to provide that
extra re-assurance to vulnerable tenants.”
The issue of ensuring residents can’t simply remove
batteries is tackled by better positioning of alarms
and designing products where removing the battery is
much less straightforward for the resident and/or where
sensor technology alerts the landlord to the removal of
batteries.
Talking Point: The City of Lincoln Council is implementing a programme to install carbon monoxide alarms
in all its 7,800 council homes by 2018. The council has decided to install a mains hard-wired carbon monoxide
detector in each of its properties to enhance the safety of its tenants. The programme, which will cost over
£845,000 during a 10-year period, covers both installation and maintenance.
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
31
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Investment in CO alarms
Case Study
Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing
trialling smart CO alarms
Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing in West Yorkshire
has recently completed installation of 150, BSI45
approved battery-powered, ‘smart’ carbon monoxide
alarms in the homes of vulnerable tenants. This is part
of a trial being funded by the north of England’s gas
distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN).
32
KNH, which manages 23,000 homes on behalf of
Kirklees Council, works with NGN and gas safety
campaigner Stacey Rodgers, as part of the Kirklees
Carbon Monoxide Awareness Group, and so was
keen to take part in the pilot. Ms Rodgers’, 10-year-old
son, Dominic, died of carbon monoxide poisoning
from a neighbour’s flue and faulty boiler. Ms Rodgers
set up The Dominic Rodgers Trust in 2004 to raise
awareness of the dangers of CO.
Smart Compliance is the manufacturer that has
developed the new Smart CO1 detectors used in
the trial scheme. All carbon monoxide emissions
(including low levels) are remotely monitored on a 24/7
basis and where CO is detected, the device issues
text message notifications to a nominated mobile
phone, whether the tenant, homeowner, a close friend
or family member. Simultaneous alerts also go to the
landlord and emergency services, where relevant.
This ensures vulnerable people in particular can be
kept safer at home. The detectors also issue weekly
reports to confirm that they are fully functional and
send alerts to landlords when the batteries need to be
replaced and where the device has been tampered
with. This information is stored in a secure, central
database.
Smart Compliance estimate these features of the
CO1 detector could save landlords tens of thousands
of pounds a year on attending false alarms and the
associated administration costs.
Paul Goodwin, who manages KNH’s Gas and Electric
team, said: ‘It’s great technology and you get a lot of
information out of these alarms. The database can
show different levels of CO at different times of days.
This information could be useful when dealing with
claims of potential CO poisoning.’
Paul added that the trial had reported a number of
false alarms, although the reduction in response times
to potential activations was important. At the moment
KNH only offers standard carbon monoxide alarms
to homes in limited circumstances, such as homes
containing solid fuel appliances, open flue boilers and
where someone is sleeping in the lounge and there is
an open-flue fire. It has no plans to alter this approach
at present.
Tom Bell, head of social strategy at NGN, said of the
trial scheme: ‘Raising awareness of the dangers
of carbon monoxide poisoning is an issue we take
extremely seriously, as is the health and safety of
all our customers. Other gas distribution networks
across the country are also taking part in the scheme
and we hope that together we will be able to make
significant progress in informing people of the risks
associated with exposure to CO.’
45The British Standards Institute is the body responsible for setting
the required standard for fire and CO alarms. The relevant standard
for CO alarms is BS EN 50291-1:2010+A1: 2012. The relevant
standard for fire alarms is BS EN 14604: 2005.
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
A HouseMark report in 2010, Provision of Carbon
Monoxide Detectors in Social Rented Homes, surveyed
138 social landlords covering 1.13 million homes and
found that 86 per cent had installed CO alarms ‘to
some or all of their homes with gas or solid fuel heating’
appliances. It concluded that priority was given by these
landlords to installing CO alarms in properties with solid
fuel-burning appliances and that ‘a few’ organisations
were fitting CO alarms to all properties supplied with gas
and solid fuel-heating, or planned to do so.
The report cited part of the reason for this as being
that the government of the time was not minded to
require CO alarms where any fuel-burning appliance is
installed. This was due to a report in September 2009
commissioned by the Department for Communities and
Local Government that found ‘installing CO detectors
alongside new gas appliances (already incorporating
secondary safety systems) gives low cost benefit’46.
The DCLG expanded on this point in evidence to the
DCLG select committee of MPs in February 2012
when then minister Andrew Stunnell said: ‘Solid fuel
appliances are about 10 times more likely than gas to
generate CO emissions when they should not do.’
It should be noted that the HouseMark report dates from
2010, but the resistance from some social landlords
to installing CO alarms in all homes was based on the
following:
‘Most of our [gas] boilers are modern ‘fail safe’
appliances and we therefore believe that these do
not need a [CO] detector adjacent to them.’
‘These aren’t fitted as a rule but we have installed
CO detectors into properties where the tenant is
sleeping in the front room and refuses an electric
[fire] alternative. These are normally exceptional
circumstances where there’s no other practical
alternative.’
‘We only [fit CO alarms] where we are aware that a
resident is sleeping in a room that has an open-flued
appliance, e.g. a back boiler. A letter is sent to the
resident to raise their awareness of the risk.’
‘Some tenants, particularly those who are vulnerable,
may be less safe if they become reliant on the device
and that this may make gaining access to carry out
the annual service more difficult.’
‘We analyse every gas boiler and get a recording of
CO emissions. If this is above the regulation limits,
then the boiler will be investigated. All our boilers are
checked every year and there is an active plan to
replace open flues with room sealed flues.’
In the light of further research – see references
to Hackney findings on page 36 – the APPCOG
recommendations and recent developments in
technology, these views may well be becoming
outdated.
46http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/
http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/
pdf/1324663
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
33
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Case Study
Hyde Group
If Building Regulations required CO alarms to be
installed when a home is built, then everyone would
know where they stand. It removes that ambiguity.’
The approach Hyde takes to protecting tenants
against CO poisoning is three-fold.
First, if a property has a solid fuel-burning appliance
Hyde will install a CO alarm. Second, if there are
concealed flues, Hyde will install a CO alarm. Third, if
a gas engineer says a particular property needs a CO
alarm for any reason Hyde will install it – no questions
asked.
Daren Jones, gas manager at Hyde, said: ‘We’d like
to see Building Regulations amended to require CO
alarms to be installed in all homes. It would be much
easier if it was in black and white and then everyone
knew where they stood. There are always costs but
you cannot put a cost on lives and safety.
Hyde is conducting a pilot using ‘smart’ CO detectors
in partnership with manufacturer Smart Compliance.
Five CO alarms are being installed in each of Hyde’s
three regions: Peterborough-Northampton, London
and the South Coast. Data from the alarms is collected
by Hyde and analysed to determine the potential
benefit of rolling out eh alarms more widely.
Daren said: ‘We want to see what the benefits
are compared to the other approaches we take.
Technology has a big role to play in the future of fire
and gas safety. The key thing for us at present is to
ensure the systems are reliable and robust.’
34
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Data collection on CO incidents and
‘trusted messengers’
In its report in January 2015 – Carbon Monoxide: From
Awareness to Action47 – the All-Party Parliamentary
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Group (APPCOG) highlighted
the need for better data on CO incidents. Improved data
would help tenants and landlords to mitigate the risk of
CO poisoning.
The APPCOG report emphasised the need for the UK to
establish a central data hub which would be empowered
to collate all relevant CO performance data. The report
highlights48 the opportunity afforded by the advent of
‘smart’ CO alarms that communicate remotely with a
central hub to convey performance information (see
Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing case study, above).
This could include reporting any CO alarm triggers,
battery lifetime, any faults or tampering with the device.
Writing in the report’s foreword, Baroness Finlay, cochair of the APPCOG, said there was an opportunity
for the data from smart CO detectors to feed into the
central hub.
The Gas Safety Trust maintains the central CO hub that
was launched49 in January 2015, at the same time as the
APPCOG report. The hub at www.coportal.org provides
a comprehensive database of information on standards
and legislation as well as data on CO incidents.
In the same report, the APPCOG also highlighted the
importance of the role played by social landlords in
ensuring CO safety information is correctly provided
to residents. In its response to this research, the
APPCOG said: ‘As well as identifying unsafe appliances,
engineers allowed into properties can also act as
‘trusted messengers’ to deliver CO safety messaging.’
The APPCOG argues that CO deaths and injuries will
only be reduced by increased awareness of the dangers
– as previously mentioned, such awareness levels
among the general public are not high. The more trust
an individual has for the messenger, the greater the
likelihood of that message being heeded. As the 2015
research50 by Kings College Hospital and Public Health
England demonstrated, residents of social housing
are a particularly high-risk group for CO poisoning.
Steps taken by social landlords to ensure residents are
aware of the dangers of CO are therefore particularly
important.
47Carbon Monoxide: From Awareness to Action is available at:
http://www.policyconnect.org.uk/appcog/sites/site_appcog/
files/report/425/fieldreportdownload/appcogreportcofromawarenesstoaction.pdf
48Recommendation 3 - Data on carbon monoxide levels and incidents
should be collected and shared, with a central hub approved through
Ofgem supplier conditions, building on existing purely incident-based
data. To enable this, alarm and data collection standards should preempt the large amounts of data soon to be recorded through ‘smart’
homes, and a framework for pooling this with input from academia
should be created. Public Health England, with a remit to cover
incidents involving all fuels, should be involved in the population-level
data work.
49http://www.gassafetytrust.org/news-and-press/2015/gas-safetytrust-launches-new-online-carbon-monoxide-portal-resource
50http://jpubhealth.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/03/27/
pubmed.fdv026.long
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
35
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Cookers and other fuel-burning appliances
as a greater CO risk
In 2010, London arm’s-length management organisation
Hackney Homes, conducted a study with Public Health
England to estimate the prevalence of carbon monoxide
exposure in dwellings51.
Hackney Homes installed CO detectors in its 23,000
homes and Public Health England monitored the results.
There were 106 CO incidents reported in the six months
from November 2011.
This means that other gas appliances, such as gas
cookers that are not subject to the same regulations
and checks as gas boilers, are as much, if not a greater
risk. The study found that, even if gas boilers are fully
serviced, if other gas appliances are present in homes,
CO alarms should be installed.
51McCann L., Close R. et al. (2013) Indoor CO: A case study in England
for detection and interventions to reduce population exposure,
‘Journal of Environmental and Public Health’, 2013, available at:
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2013/735952/
The study revealed that, even within homes where gas
boilers were fully serviced and maintained, CO risk
remained in a relatively large number of properties.
36
Following further investigation, Hackney Homes
discovered that almost a third of incidents (29.9 per
cent) were caused by faulty gas cookers. An additional
10.6 per cent were due to improper cooking methods.
These included using foil round the gas hob ring and
using oversize pots and pans on small rings, hence
increasing the concentration of CO due to greater flame
dispersal.
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Talking Point: Recommendation 7 of ‘Carbon Monoxide: From Awareness to Action’52 proposes that Building
Regulations should be amended to require social housing providers to fit and maintain standard-compliant
carbon monoxide alarms wherever a fuel burning appliance is installed.
Gas safety compliance
Welsh Government requires that housing association
boards ensure their organisation is conducting the
safety checks required by law. As noted previously, this
requirement is set out in The Regulatory Framework for
Housing Associations Registered in Wales (December
2011)53.
The recent document ‘Sector Risks Facing Housing
Associations in Wales’54 reinforces this, with section 7.4
stating that the regulator ‘expects’ board to contribute to
‘the delivery of service outcomes in relation to the duty of
care/health and safety [of tenants] e.g. fire safety and gas
servicing’.
37
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard (section 7.2) states
‘all opportunities must be taken to modernise existing
installations and ensure they are safe’.
55
52Carbon Monoxide: From Awareness to Action is available at:
http://www.policyconnect.org.uk/appcog/sites/site_appcog/
files/report/425/fieldreportdownload/appcogreportcofromawarenesstoaction.pdf
53 http://gov.wales/docs/desh/
publications/111202housingregframeworken.pdf (pages 18-21)
54http://gov.wales/docs/desh/publications/160331-sector-risksfacing-housing-associations-en.pdf
55http://gov.wales/topics/housing-and-regeneration/housing-quality/
welsh-standard/?lang=en
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Gas maintenance and servicing
38
Annual Landlord Gas Safety checks and maintenance
requirements generally apply to gas appliances, flues
and fittings installed in rented residential properties.
Appliances owned by the tenant such as gas cookers
are not however covered, within the terms of the
Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998.
Nevertheless, open flued gas fires installed by a tenant
can lead to some uncertainty for landlords because the
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 contradicts the Gas
Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998 and places
a duty of care on the landlord to undertake testing of the
flue which is part of the fabric of the building. The Health
and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires a landlord to
ensure that any purpose provided flue (chimney) within
a rented property that has a gas appliance attached
is safe and fit for use. This will inevitably require a gas
engineer to remove the gas fire, check the opening
dimensions are correct, of a solid construction, made
of suitable materials and will also require a flue flow test
to ensure potential products of combustion will have
clear passage to atmosphere. Subsequently, the gas
service engineer will need to ensure that the tenant’s fire
is then refitted as per the manufacturer’s instructions
and that it is ultimately safe for use. In order to do this
the engineer will therefore need to test and service the
appliance as per manufacturer’s instructions or where
manufacturer’s instructions are not available make the
appliance safe and disconnect it from the gas supply.
This means that in order for a landlord to meet their legal
requirement under this act they will either need to adopt
the tenant’s appliance within their maintenance contract
and service it in accordance with manufacturer’s
instructions within 12 month intervals or service the
appliance at the time of the annual maintenance service
and charge the tenant for the service.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also point out
in their leaflet A guide to landlords’ duties: Gas Safety
(Installation and Use) Regulations 199856 that a landlord
cannot delegate these duties to a tenant. In addition,
the HSE states in its guidance that a landlord ‘should not
assume that an annual service inspection meets the
safety check requirement, or that a safety check will, on
its own, be sufficient to provide effective maintenance’.
The only way to provide effective maintenance is to
undertake a service of the appliance as per the specific
manufacturer’s instructions.
This also raises the question of whether an annual gas
safety inspection will provide adequate protection to
tenants from the risks of CO poisoning. As highlighted
in the recent carbon monoxide report57 by the All Party
Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group and explored
in the case study above on Kirklees Neighbourhood
Housing, one additional safe guard that landlords could
take would be to install ‘smart’ CO alarms. As well as
automatically contacting the landlord and fire service
if there is a CO leak, these smart alarms provide a 24/7
evidence base of intelligence on gas and CO safety.
56A guide to landlords’ duties: Gas Safety (Installation and Use)
Regulations 1998 http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg285.pdf
57Carbon Monoxide: From Awareness to Action is available at:
http://www.policyconnect.org.uk/appcog/sites/site_appcog/
files/report/425/fieldreportdownload/appcogreportcofromawarenesstoaction.pdf
In addition, the Gas Safety Installation and Use
Regulations 1998 specifies that any appliances and
flues serving a rented property – such as district central
heating boilers not installed in tenants’ accommodation,
but used to heat them – are covered.
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Gas maintenance access
Another issue, and perhaps the biggest barrier to
carrying out gas safety checks, is gaining access to
properties. Many landlords report they go to great
lengths to be as convenient to tenants as possible,
offering weekend and evening appointments, but many
tenants still refuse access.
Home Group has led a campaign of 50 housing
associations in lobbying the government to extend
access rights to bring them into line with those of local
authorities.
The HSE's Stuart Kitchingman spoke at the 2016
Association of Gas Safety Managers (AGSM) Gas
Safety Management Conference and confirmed the
HSE's support of the move to an MOT style of LGSR,
following a comprehensive consultation process.
He also confirmed that the wording of the proposed
amendment to HSE Regulation 36(3) (aa) would state:
‘For the purposes of paragraph (3)(a), a safety check
carried out not less than 10 months and not more than
12 months after the date of the most recent safety
checks shall be treated as if made at the end of that
period.’
When the campaign launched in 2014 Mark Henderson,
chief executive of Home Group, wrote in Inside Housing:
‘The Gas Access Campaign isn’t advocating a change
which would see housing associations knock down a
door at first refusal but a clear and transparent process
allowing customers many opportunities to grant
access. It’s the same right of entry local authorities have
exercised responsibly for years. At the point it becomes
clear a tenant is not engaging it would reduce time taken
to obtain a court order from as much as four months
to 24 hours. Lives are at stake and the issue is far too
important to ignore.’
39
At this point in time, however, the Government is not
minded to adopt this approach.
The campaign has also proposed amending the Gas
Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations to allow
an ‘MOT-style approach to gas safety checks’. The
campaign website says: ‘This would mean that checks
could be carried out up to one month before the expiry
of the current gas safety check record, but the new
safety check record would be dated such that it is
valid for a full twelve months from the expiry date of
the current safety check record. This ensures that the
safety check cycle is not shortened each year.’
The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) has, in principle,
approved this move to an MOT style of LGSR (Landlord
Gas Safety Record) for the landlords’ annual gas safety
checks.
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Case Study
North Wales Housing Association
Gas Safety
North Wales Housing Association (NWHA) has
dedicated significant time and resources to improving
gas safety. As part of this process a large proportion
of its stock was fitted with carbon monoxide detectors
to aid early detection of issues. This has produced
some interesting results.
On average NWHA receive approximately five
activation calls per year, and three fumes escape
reports.
40
In the past, the association sent their in-house
team to inspect and isolate the gas supply until
a qualified contractor could attend (usually 5-7
days). However, this did not factor for migration of
products of combustion from other properties, and
caused disruption to the tenant with the loss of gas
for several days. (Note: any confirmed case of CO
poisoning [confirmed by a blood test] is reportable
under RIDDOR and must be investigated by the gas
transporter or HSE dependent on situation).
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
Following a review, the association decided to
bring the gas inspection service in house so that
the investigation could be conducted same day,
any potential CO or fumes hazard eliminated and
disruption to the tenant minimised.
NWHA recognised that taking on this responsibility
in house meant that new skills and competencies
were required. To train and equip a single engineer
costs approximately £1,000 – training, a specialist
gas analyser and personal CO alarm are required.
To complete an investigation takes half a day at
an approximate cost of £100 (including on-costs)
compared to £350 where the responsibility is
outsourced.
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Discussion points:
Carbon monoxide and gas safety
Case Study
Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd Cyf
Gas Safety
Case Study
Hyde Group
Gas Safety
Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd Cyf (CCG) has signed
up to the Gas Access Campaign to highlight to
their tenants how important it is to keep their boiler
servicing appointment.
Daren Jones, Hyde’s gas manager, said Hyde has
25,500 properties with gas and operates a 10-month
gas safety service cycle. To enforce this, Hyde
operatives attempt two visits to properties and if these
fail to gain access, it works with resident services to
explore whether the tenant may have vulnerabilities.
If this is not the case, Hyde commences legal
proceedings to gain forced entry. Around 40-100
properties with access issues are being tracked at
any one time. This ensures a very low rate of noncompliant homes of 0.01%.
Recently CCG introduced a new cash incentive to help
tackle the issue – tenants who allow first time access
for the gas safety check are entered into a prize draw –
with a winner announced every three months.
Gareth Roberts, Mechanical & Electrical Compliance
Manager said “We’re pleased to introduce this
incentive to encourage tenants to let our workers
into their homes to carry out our regular cyclical
safety checks. Tenant safety is very important to
us, it’s a legal requirement to make sure boilers and
fires are safe and to provide a safety certificate to the
tenant each year. The hope is that this prize draw will
encourage more tenants to work with us to ensure
their homes are safe”.
Daren described the current situation on gaining
access to difficult properties as ‘frustrating’. He said:
‘We need to jump through so many hoops, compared
to local authorities. It costs us more than £1 million a
year in legal fees. Gas safety compliance is our number
one priority. If anything we are investing more in this
area than less.’
CCG is also asking its Neighbourhood Services
Team to tackle persistent missed appointments by
undertaking visits to help encourage those hardest to
reach to co-operate fully with the M&E team.
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Overview on carbon monoxide and gas safety
41
Quick reference grids on fire,
gas and carbon monoxide
Quick reference grids on fire,
gas and carbon monoxide
Fire safety rules for social and private rented sectors (PRS): Wales
Gas and carbon monoxide safety rules for social and private rented sectors (PRS): Wales
FIRE
TENURE
RELEVANT
FIRE/SMOKE
LEGISLATION
RESPONSIBLE
ENFORCING
BODY
SMOKE
ALARM
REQUIRED
IN ALL
HOMES?
GAS AND CARBON MONOXIDE (CO)
SMOKE
ALARM
REQUIRED
IN ALL
NEW
HOMES?
SMOKE
ALARM
REQUIRED
IN ALL
UPGRADED
OR
RETROFITTED
HOMES?
SOCIAL
HOUSING
42
Part B –
Building
Regulations
Welsh
Government
Local Authority
Building Control
The Regulatory
Reform (Fire
Safety) Order
Health & Safety
Executive (HSE)
The Regulatory
Reform (Fire
Safety) Order
2005: a short
guide to making
your premises
safe from fire
Relevant
regional Fire
Service1
Yes – the
WHQS
requires
smoke
alarms on
all floors
by 2020
YES
NO*
PRIVATE
RENTED
SECTOR
Domestic Fire
Safety (Wales)
Measure 2011
Local Authority
Building Control
Health & Safety
Executive (HSE)
* In general ‘No’, however, if any alteration is deemed significant by the
Local Authority Building Control and impedes fire safety as smoke
alarm is required. A smoke alarm is also required if there is a conversion
or sub-division or an amalgamation of properties in an existing
dwelling.
Quick reference grids on fire,
gas and carbon monoxide
In addition, the Fire
and Rescue National
Framework 2016
states:
Welsh Government
has said that it
may make carbon
monoxide alarms
mandatory in all
social and privately
rented homes. The
recently passed
Renting Homes
(Wales) Act 2016
contains provisions
that would allow the
Welsh Government
to take such steps
through regulations
NO*
In addition, the Fire
and Rescue National
Framework 2016
states:
‘The fitting of smoke
alarms in both private
and rented properties is critical. Having
working smoke
alarms in all rented
homes in Wales has
clear potential to
prevent death and
injury to tenants,
and damage to their
property and that of
landlords.’
RELEVANT
GAS AND CO
LEGISLATION
RESPONSIBLE
ENFORCING
BODY
CO ALARM
REQUIRED
IN ALL
HOMES?
Part J – Building
Regulations
CO ALARM
REQUIRED
IN ALL
UPGRADED
OR
RETROFITTED
HOMES?
UPCOMING
REGULATION
OR
LEGISLATION
NO**
The Welsh
Government
has said
that it may
make carbon
monoxide
alarms
mandatory in
all social and
privately rented
homes. The
recently passed
Renting Homes
(Wales) Act
2016 contains
provisions that
would allow
the Welsh
Government
to take such
steps through
regulations.
SOCIAL
HOUSING
Gas Safety
(Installation
and Use)
Regulations
1998
Gas Safety
(Installation
and Use)
Regulations
1998, Approved
Code of
Practice
Welsh
Government
Local Authority
Building Control
NO**
NO**
Health & Safety
Executive (HSE)
Part J – Building
Regulations
PRIVATE
RENTED
SECTOR
Gas Safety
(Installation
and Use)
Regulations
1998
Gas Safety
(Installation
and Use)
Regulations
1998, Approved
Code of
Practice
Local Authority
Building Control
Health & Safety
Executive (HSE)
NO**
NO**
NO**
The Welsh
Government
has said that it
may make
carbon
monoxide
alarms
mandatory in
all social and
privately rented
homes. The
recently passed
Renting Homes
(Wales) Act
2016 contains
provisions
that would
allow the Welsh
Government
to take such
steps through
regulations.
**Part J of the Building Regulations, a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm
is required in every room whenever a new or replacement solid
fuel-burning appliance (such as a wood-burning stove) is installed.
However, this excludes other types of fixed combustion appliances
such as gas boilers.
1 S
outh Wales Fire and Rescue Service serves the ten unitary authority
areas of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Monmouth, Merthyr,
Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan. North
Wales Fire and Rescue Service serves Gwynedd and Ynys Môn, Conwy and
Denbighshire and Wrexham and Flintshire. Mid and West Wales Fire and
Rescue Service serves Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot,
Pembrokeshire, Powys, and Swansea.
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
CO ALARM
REQUIRED
IN ALL
NEW
HOMES?
Welsh Housing
Quality
Standard
(WHQS)
‘The fitting of smoke
alarms in both
private and rented
properties is critical.
Having working
smoke alarms in
all rented homes
in Wales has clear
potential to prevent
death and injury to
tenants, and damage
to their property and
that of landlords.’
Domestic Fire
Safety (Wales)
Measure 2011
Part B – Building
Regulations
TENURE
Welsh Government
has said that it
may make carbon
monoxide alarms
mandatory in all
social and privately
rented homes. The
recently passed
Renting Homes
(Wales) Act 2016
contains provisions
that would allow the
Welsh Government
to take such steps
through regulations
Welsh Housing
Quality
Standard
(WHQS)
Housing Health
and Safety
Rating System
(HHSRS)
UPCOMING
REGULATION
OR
LEGISLATION
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Quick reference grids on fire,
gas and carbon monoxide
43
Appendix 1
Research questions on health and safety
issues around fire, gas and carbon monoxide
Appendix 2 – Glossary of terms
TERM
DEFINITION
Battery-powered
Carbon monoxide (CO), smoke and other alarms/detectors that are run from
batteries and not hard wired to an electric power source
Questions for social landlords:
1. What aspects of health and safety do you actively monitor and measure performance on,
focusing on fire, smoke and gas?
2. What legislation is this complying with? Are you working towards meeting new legislation
coming in the future?
3. What is your strategy here and how are you delivering it?
(We are looking for case studies of innovative approaches)
4. Do you keep extensive records that need to be submitted to a regulating body?
Apart from the risk of accident, what policing is there of your approach to gas / smoke / fire risk
monitoring?
5. To what extent has your organisation invested in new technology to help
your performance in health and safety on fire, smoke and gas?
CO
6. Are you working with any partners as part of your strategy?
If so whom please?
44
7. What are the key challenges in this area of health and safety as you see it?
What are your key achievements?
CO is the chemical symbol for carbon monoxide, a colourless, odourless, tasteless
and highly poisonous gas that is commonly produced when carbon-based fuels
(such as wood, oil and gas) do not burn properly. If present in high concentrations
and undetected it can be fatal. Chronic (persistent and long-term) exposure to
lower levels of CO, as can occur with faulty domestic boilers, may go unrecognised.
The symptoms include milder versions of those seen in acute CO poisoning, with
headache, nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, fatigue and sleepiness, difficulty
concentrating and memory problems, as well as changes in mood.
People may be aware that something is wrong, but be unable to identify exactly
what is the matter, or may attribute the problems to overwork, stress or depression.
If symptoms disappear while away at work, reappearing on returning home, or if
other people in the same premises develop similar symptoms, it may become more
obvious that there is an environmental cause.
Although most people seem to recover following chronic low level CO exposure
when the source is removed, it can lead to anoxic brain injury.
45
8. What would you like to see changed in terms of regulations to make your job/responsibilities
more straightforward?
Appendix 1
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Fire alarm
An alarm that is activated when fire is detected. These can be manual or automatic.
There are eight categories of fire alarm, with the range intended to cover all building
and use types
Hard-wired
Carbon monoxide, smoke and other alarms can be connected to the main electricity
supply (hard-wired). However, they still require a battery back-up. These can be
alkaline batteries (which need annual changing) or the alarm can be supplied with
re-chargeable lithium batteries, which will last the lifetime of the alarm, or alarms
fitted with sealed 10 year batteries. Mains alarms need to be installed by a qualified
electrician.
Heat alarm
Carbon monoxide (CO), smoke and other alarms/detectors that are run from
batteries and not hard wired to an electric power source
Smart alarms
Smart alarms, including smoke and CO alarms, perform
additional functions to the
detection and alerts performed by traditional devices, often through a connection
such as Wi-Fi, GSM (Global System for Mobile communication. In everyman terms it’s
used for sending text messages), ultra-narrow band, etc. For instance, a smart CO
device may communicate data about the extent of CO levels and specific location of
an incident in a property to a portal and mobile phone through the GSM network, in
addition to standard audible and visual alerts. These smart devices are also capable
of reporting faults with the batteries and sensors or that they have been tampered
with
Smoke alarm
An alarm that activates automatically when it detects smoke
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
Appendix 2
About the authors
Stuart Macdonald is an award-winning journalist and
former editor of Inside Housing magazine. He is the
founding director of communications consultancy See
Media, which works with landlords and their suppliers
in the UK affordable housing sector. At Inside Housing,
Stuart launched the successful ‘Safe as Houses’
campaign aimed at raising awareness of fire and gas
safety issues among social landlords.
Denise Chevin is a writer, researcher and awardwinning editor in the built environment. She edited
Building Magazine and its web site Building.co.uk and
prior to that revamped and edited the social housing
magazine, Housing Today. Denise is also research
fellow of the Smith Institute and has written a number
of parliamentary reports including No More Lost
Generations, looking at youth unemployment.
Acknowledgements
46
The authors are very grateful to all the individuals and organisations that contributed to this research. We
have listed everyone below. We have made every effort to ensure the report is accurate and, to this end have
worked in particular with Sharon Fleming, Lead Associate Consultant, HouseMark, who has made a significant
contribution to the accuracy and content of this publication. In addition, we thank Ross Fraser, former chief
executive at HouseMark, for his review and editing of the contents.
Daren Jones,
gas manager, Hyde
evin Bowring,
K
investment manager, Lincoln City
Council
owri Ann James,
L
head of health, safety, quality and
environment, Cartrefi Cymunedol
Gwynedd Cyf (CCG)
Mike Owen,
chief executive,
Merthyr Valley Homes
Donald Heaney,
head of governance and inspection,
Department for Social Development
(Northern Ireland)
Grŵp Cartrefi Cymunedol Cymru
(Community Housing Cymru), Health
and Safety Network
Robert Groom,
fire risk manager,
Peabody
Housing Directorate, Welsh
Government
Scott Wallace,
director,
Smart Appliances
Nick Cross,
head of housing services,
Southampton City Council
Paul Goodwin,
gas and electric team manager,
Kirklees Neighbourhood Homes
Sebastian Hibbert,
compliance and audit manager, Tai
Gogledd Cymru (North Wales)
The Homes and Communities
Agency
Rachel Bancroft,
health and safety manager,
Southern Housing Group
HouseMark Ltd. 4 Riley Court, Millburn Hill Road, University of Warwick Science Park, CV4 7HP Switchboard +44 (0) 24 7646 0500
This document can be found in the publications section of housemark.co.uk.
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Acknowledgements
Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: what Welsh social landlords need to know
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