Issue - meetings

Fire Safety Policy

Meeting: 26/01/2024 - Cabinet Member for Housing and Tackling Homelessness (Item 30)

Fire Safety Policy

Purpose of Report

The purpose of the report is to update members of a review of the existing fire safety policy by the Fire Safety Group, including the resident consortium and to seek approval to implement proposed changes to the policy.




1.    That the fire safety policy (Appendix A - Fire Safety Policy, version 1.3) is approved and Housing, Neighborhood and Building Services implement the revised fire safety policy which includes the following changes.


The main change to the fire policy is the management of the means of escape and communal areas within blocks of flats. The policy changes the current 'managed use' approach to a 'zero tolerance' approach to be adopted for common walkways or stairwells except for Cat 2 and Cat 2.5 blocks that will remain 'managed use'.


Other changes to the fire policy include the scope of the policy extended to specifically include individual doors opening onto common parts of the building and the external structure (including doors, windows, cladding and balconies) of blocks of flats.  The lowering of the classification of higher risk blocks from ten storeys to seven storeys, confirmation of where fire safety information will be provided and premises information boxes, details of fire door inspectios, firefighting equipment fault reporting and assisted evacuation.


2.    The implementation and communication plan that is set out in section 5 is approved.

Additional documents:


Steve Groves, Head of Building Maintenance presented the report, the purpose of which was to update members of a review of the existing fire safety policy by the Fire Safety Group, including the Resident Consortium and to seek approval to implement the proposed changes to the policy.


Resident Consortium Questions and Comments

Consortium members had no questions but commented on the thorough report and agreed with its contents.


Members Questions

In response to Member's questions, officers clarified:


·         The Fire Safety Policy had always been about managed use with the service implementing that approach when a fire risk assessment had identified a particular issue and then going to zero tolerance.  The new policy was to back that up and ensure consistency in all of the blocks.


·         The zero tolerance included bikes under stairs and plants on shelves in communal areas.

·         Smoke detectors in properties were mains operated and were checked annually as part of the gas servicing contract.


·         The policy did not apply to shared gardens and other housing land, it is just around the means of escape within blocks of flats.


·         All blocks have FD30 fire doors.  The service undertakes yearly fire assessments which include recommendations for repairs or upgrades to the fire doors.  If the doors are replaced there is a certification process that comes alongside it.


·         The future programme on replacement of fire doors would be bought to a housing cabinet member decision meeting in the future to outline the programme of works.


·         The fire service were clear they need 'dead spaces' to be kept sterile on the basis they may have to stage equipment through those areas, such as fire hoses.


·         Further investigation was being carried out in relation to pots that hook over balconies to see if they would be acceptable in relation to fire risks.


·         Residents had been advised that on a communal space such as a balcony that leads to a front door, they may use small tables and chairs whilst they were sat on them, as long as they were brought in or put away as soon as they were not being used.


·         Tenants could not be asked to sign an agreement to accept the risk if they put items out as Portsmouth City Council, as the landlord, is responsible for the communal areas, so tenants cannot be asked to accept the risk if Hampshire fire and rescue struggle in the course of dealing with an incident.


·         The service was working with tenants on possible bike storage areas or with making space in their sheds if they have one.


Members' comments


·         Members considered it a good policy upholding the consistency throughout.


·         Members considered that a zero tolerance policy does not allow for commonsense discretion or allow for consideration of circumstances.  To do so would allow for increased residential amenity for residents who want some ownership over the place they live.  Of note were certain types of plant pots that fit securely over balconies that would still allow for clear fire exits.  Similarly, fireproof  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30