Ensuring Residents Feel Safe in their Homes

Peter Dunsby talks us through three frequently found fire hazards.

You’ve surely heard that in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy over 100 blocks of flats up and down the country have failed to meet the current fire safety standards. Sadly we don’t find this too hard to believe; in the Eco Matters line of work, we come across potential fire risks on a daily basis.

In concentrating on the big issues like fire doors and smoke alarms, it’s the little things that sometimes slip under the radar. Here are the three fire hazards that Eco Matters see most frequently- and the good news is all of them are very easily fixed.

Dangerous Wiring

All it takes is one wrongly placed wire to wreck havoc. Statistics show that electrical fires account for nearly half of all accidental domestic fires and a large percentage of these are down to faulty wiring work. Seems obvious, but sadly we come across it time and time again so perhaps it’s not as obvious as you’d think!

Potentially risky wiring is something we keep a close lookout for when carrying out installation work and we find that it’s usually a result of residents attempting to rewire things themselves. Making sure residents have a clear point of call for repairs is an easy way to prevent this, as well as making clear to them of the dangers of badly done wiring. It’s also worth performing periodic inspections on electrical wiring in both communal areas and individual flats- the frequency of this is best left at your discretion, depending on the tenancy lengths in your properties.

Dodgy Downlighters

How many of your residents have fitted ceiling level downlighters under existing loft insulation without properly covering the downlighters? A clear fire risk that we come across time and time again. 30 uncovered downlighters in a flat is our worst case to date.

It is essential that downlighters be fitted with a good quality cover, so as to ensure fire, air and moisture barriers are reinstated. These little things have the added bonus of saving energy (through reducing heat loss), limiting drafts and improving air tightness; but most importantly, they prevent disaster. When covers are used, insulation can be safely installed on top, however an uncovered downlighter with insulation layered on top is a clear potential for fire. For that reason, we make sure to cover any uncovered downlighters we come across whilst installing loft insulation.

Although any cover is better than none at all, a poor quality cover can be almost as bad. The Loftcap model Eco Matters use meets all requirements for UK building regulations and provides the best protection possible.

Inadequate Insulation

Cheap, poor quality insulation is another massive potential fire risk. Eco Matters isn’t a fan of that yellow fluffy stuff, instead favouring more naturally-coloured, environmentally friendly insulation. Most importantly, this insulation is fire retardant which is especially important in a loft where there may be hazards such as wires lying under the insulation.

The good news here is that it’s very possible that you could receive a grant towards upgrading your properties loft insulation! This is the kind of thing we look into when analysing the funding available for your property.

Hopefully this has given you a little food for thought when it comes to fire safety. We know all these seem obvious- maybe this is why they’re so easy to forget about! Though it may not be our primary focus, as we touched on in last month’s Flat Living we pride ourselves on doing work that significantly improves fire safety.

Who is Eco Matters? What works can we organise?

Set up five years ago, Eco Matters is a Sussex based company that provides insulation to residential blocks of flats. In founder Peter Dunsby’s own words, ‘I wanted to make a difference and do whatever I could to combat climate change. We fell into working on flats by accident, now it’s what we do day in day out… if we can save people living in flats money on their heating bills and attend to fire safety then we think that’s great!’

In these five years, we have organised insulation for from Glasgow to Plymouth and Eastbourne and nearly everywhere in between. We look at a block of flats, we work out the best options to improve the insulation or to make the heating system better, and then we work out what grants there are to help meet the cost. Sometimes we can do work for free, sometimes we get a grant for work that has to happen anyway, like renewing a flat roof to save energy and reduce condensation in apartments.

Eco Matters can either fit or organise cavity wall insulation, flat roof insulation, loft insulation, external or internal wall insulation and underfloor insulation (for example for garages below flats or undercrofts) for blocks of residential flats. We can also assist with communal heating system upgrades and switches from electric heating to a renewable based heating system.

Contact: 0800 001 4943

Email: info@ecomatters.org.uk

Website:  www.ecomatters.org.uk

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