Fire safety and evacuation

Fire safety and evacuation

If there is a fire, you need to know what to do to keep you and members of your household safe.


Fire EvacuationHere we tell you what to do if:


If a fire starts in your house or flat:

  • leave the room where the fire is and close the door if you can - it will help slow down the spread of the fire and smoke
  • tell everyone in the house/flat and get them to leave as quickly as possible, close the entrance door behind you
  • if there is a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air should be clearer
  • before you open a door check if it's warm with the back of your hand - if it is, don't open it, fire is on the other side
  • do not stay behind to put the fire out or to collect your belongings
  • if there is a lift don't use it, use the stairs or fire escape instead
  • wait outside away from the building
  • call the fire service on 999 or 112 from a safe location (a mobile phone, call box or neighbour's house)
  • do not return to the property unless a fire officer tells you that it is safe to go back in


If you live in a flat, and a fire starts in another part of the building: 

  • if you are in a communal area, leave the building - don't return to your flat
  • if you are already in your flat, it is usually safe for you to stay there if the fire is elsewhere, unless the heat or smoke from the fire is affecting you - the walls, floors and doors of the flat are designed to give you 30 to 60 minutes protection from a fire; if you stay in your flat you should still call the fire service on 999 or 112
  • if you live in one of our independent living scheme flats, use your alarm to contact our Careline response officers, they will explain what is happening and tell you what to do
  • leave immediately if smoke or heat affects your flat, or if a fire officer tells you to
  • if there is a lift don't use it, use the stairs or fire escape instead
  • if you are in doubt - get out


If your escape route is blocked:

  • try to stay calm and choose a room you can all go to, ideally with a window and a phone
  • close the door and put towels or blankets at the bottom of the door to stop smoke coming in
  • if you have a phone handy call the fire service on 999
  • open any windows and attract attention or help
  • crouch on the floor where the air will be better to breathe (smoke rises)
  • as a last resort throw pillows and duvets out of the window and lower yourself onto them - if you can't open the window break the glass in the bottom corner and make jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket


How to contact the fire service:

  • dial 999 or 112
  • when the operator answers give your telephone number and ask for the fire service
  • give the fire service the address and details of the fire
  • stay on the line until the fire service have repeated the address to you and given you instructions
  • if the fire service arrive don't just hang up, let the operator know that they are there


If you are asked to evacuate your home by the emergency services:

Sometimes a fire may not be directly affecting your home, but you may need to leave for your own safety. If you are asked to leave by the emergency services you should:

  • leave quickly, but don't panic
  • take essential items only, don't spend time packing
  • remember to take with you any medication, toiletries and sanitary supplies
  • if you have time, turn off electricity, gas and water supplies, unplug appliances and lock all doors and windows
  • if you have pets don't forget about them, and take any medication they need
  • contact friends or relatives after you have left, the emergency rest centre will help you find a phone if you don't have one of your own


How we're keeping council flats and independent living schemes safe:

Our environment officers regularly visit our blocks of flats to identify hazards. They will check for:

  • furniture and rubbish left outside the block
  • fire doors that have been locked or wedged open
  • damage to main entrance doors and meter boxes
  • build up of rubbish in bin stores and obstructions on landings and other communal areas

We also carry out routine checks to make sure that emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers, emergency doors, emergency lighting, fire alarms and detectors are working as they should.

All of our independent living schemes and some general needs blocks of flats have been fitted with sprinkler systems, with more work planned, to provide extra safety measures.

Landlords of private flats are responsible for making sure that they are safe and that fire safety and emergency equipment is in place and working.


How you can help keep your flats safe:

If you live in a flat with communal areas there are things you can do to reduce the risk of fire, and reduce the risk to life if a fire happens:

  • test the smoke alarm each month to check that it is still working
  • always keep fire escape routes and exits clear - don't leave rubbish or other items in the hall, stairs or landings 
  • don't put carpet, rugs or decorative items in the communal area, they could cause a trip hazard or obstruction in an emergency 
  • keep fire doors closed and never wedge open doors in communal areas - they help reduce the spread of fire and smoke 
  • never lock doors in communal areas - they need to be used to escape or give access for emergency services if a fire starts 
  • don't store highly flammable substances (such as petrol) anywhere in the block 
  • recycle as much of your waste as you can to stop communal bins overflowing 
  • don't use barbecues next to flats 
  • don’t overload plug sockets 
  • never try to dry clothes on electric heaters 
  • don’t smoke in communal areas 
  • keep door and window keys somewhere easy for everyone to access

Report damaged or broken doors and meter boxes at council flats immediately on 0800 587 5659. If you see rubbish or obstructions outside or in the communal areas of council flats, report it to us straight away on 01246 345142. 


Balcony safety tips to keep you and you neighbours safe: 


  • fix fairy lights to the balcony
  • use the balcony as a fire pit
  • barbecue on your balcony - embers could carry and set light to your or your neighbours balcony and possessions
  • store or set off fireworks on your balcony
  • fix additional timber or combustible screening or flooring to the balcony (this includes artificial grass or similar) 


  • limit the amount of storage kept on balconies and do not store waste items such as old mattresses and cardboard recycling on the balcony
  • report any defects, cracks, damage or other loose materials to management 

It’s better not to smoke at all, but if you do always ensure your cigarette is properly put out and never throw it over the side. It could catch light to possessions on a balcony below or next to yours. 

Be mindful of any type of naked flame and how you dispose of hot materials, either within your apartment or on a balcony. 


You can find more information on the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service website, including fire prevention advice, safety information and details of how to plan a safe escape from your home.




Last updated on 29/05/2024