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Safety in your council home

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Safety in your council home

Your safety is our top priority. Please read this page to make sure you know how to reduce the risk of fires to keep you, your family and your neighbours safe.

  • In an emergency always call 999. It is free to call.
  • If you think you would have a problem getting out of your home safely if there was a fire, contact your neighbourhood housing officer.

Smoke alarms

Working smoke alarms warn you of a fire, give you extra time to escape, and could save your life:

  • Camden has a programme to fit hardwired smoke detectors in all tenanted flats in purpose built blocks, and in all street properties. If you are a leaseholder or a tenant but you don’t have a hardwired detector yet, you can get a free home fire safety assessment and free 10-year battery operated smoke alarm by calling the London Fire Brigade on 0800 028 4428 or visiting their website.
  • Test your alarms every week to make sure they work properly.
  • Remember to change the battery and look after your alarm in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never tamper with or disconnect hardwired smoke, carbon monoxide or heat detectors. You must still check the battery in these alarms every week. When the battery stops working, you will need to contact the repairs team on 020 7974 4444 to get the whole alarm replaced.
  • Offer to help your neighbours who might not be able to test their own smoke alarms.
  • Dust and dirt can stop your smoke alarm working – vacuum it once a year.


Doors – especially front doors – are a very important part of the fire safety in your building. Always follow these rules to keep everyone in your building safe:

  • Never remove your self-closer as this will put the rest of your building at risk if there is a fire in your flat. If you’re worried about being locked out of your flat, think about leaving a spare pair of keys with your neighbour.
  • Never fit security doors or grilles because this could stop you or your neighbours getting out if there is a fire.
  • Don’t replace or change your front door in any way because this could affect how fire resistant it is.
  • Don’t fit a lock on your door that needs to be opened from the inside with a key, because you might not be able to find it in an emergency.
  • Close doors and windows, especially when you go to bed – in the event of a fire, this helps to stop smoke and flames spreading.
  • Never block, tie or wedge open fire doors in your home or any shared areas.


Smoking is still a major cause of fire. We don’t want anyone to smoke but if you aren’t ready to quit yet, follow these rules to keep you and the people around you safe:

  • Make sure you put cigarettes out fully and dispose of them correctly – don’t throw them on the floor and never out of the window. You don’t know where it will land and it could cause a fire.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Use a heavy ashtray that won’t tip over easily.
  • Take extra care when smoking if you have been drinking alcohol, taking medication or other drugs.
  • Do not empty the ashtray into a bin as this can catch fire. A drop of water in the ashtray will help make it safer.
  • Keep matches, lighters and smoking materials out of children’s sight and reach.
  • If you want help to stop smoking, visit

Kitchen and cooking safety

Most fires start in the kitchen.

Follow these simple rules to help keep you, your family and your neighbours safe while you cook:

  • If a pan catches fire never try to move it. Only turn off the heat if it is safe to do.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. Take pans off the heat or turn off the heat if you’re called away from the cooker.
  • Don’t start cooking if you are tired or have been drinking alcohol.
  • A chip pan should never be more than 1/3 full with oil. Never throw water on a chip pan fire because water reacts with oil and could cause a fireball. Instead of a chip pan, think about using a thermostat-controlled deep fat fryer.
  • Keep things that can catch fire away from where you cook.

Electrical appliances

Stop fires starting from your electrical appliances by doing the following:

  • Don’t leave your mobile phone charging overnight, especially on your bed or under your pillow. Batteries can overheat and catch fire.
  • Try and use only one plug per socket. Large, high powered appliances like washing machines should have a single plug to themselves.
  • Don’t run electrical leads under carpets because this stops you from seeing any damage to cables.
  • Regularly remove the build-up of fluff in tumble driers.
  • If you use a portable heater, use an oil filled one instead of a halogen, bar or convector heater. Always keep heaters well away from clothes, curtains and furniture.
  • Switch off electrical appliances when you’re not using them and pull out plugs, especially before you go to bed.
  • Make sure all electrical appliances you buy have a British or European safety mark.
  • Faulty electrical items can be a fire hazard. You can see a list of current electrical products being recalled at It’s worth checking for any appliances you bought second hand (especially tumble driers) in case you have missed a product recall.

Store everything safely

Don’t leave anything that could catch fire or get in someone’s way in corridors or communal areas. This includes bikes and buggies. We may remove things that could be dangerous for you and your neighbours without notice:

  • If you have a balcony, don’t use it as a place to store anything that can catch fire. Fires on balconies can spread easily and there have been major fires in Camden caused by careless disposal of cigarettes or storing flammable materials on balconies.
  • Never use or store flammable substances in your home or shared areas. This includes things like petrol, paraffin containers or cylinders (for example Calor gas) dangerous chemicals, gases or materials.
  • If storage is a problem for you, speak to your neighbourhood housing officer.


Never use a barbecue indoors or on a balcony. Barbecues on balconies have caused serious fires in Camden.

  • In a small or enclosed space like a balcony, barbecues can easily cause fires and could cause carbon monoxide to build up in you or your neighbours' flats. Carbon monoxide is an odourless gas that can kill in minutes.
  • Having a barbecue on your balcony is very dangerous for you and everyone else who lives in your building. Never have a barbecue on your balcony, inside your home or in any enclosed space.