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Keep your escape clear & safe

Published: 22 October 2019

Keep your escape clear & safe Keep your escape clear and safe

If you live in a flat or in a building with a shared stairway or corridor, remember to keep them clear. If there is a fire this is your way to escape.

If you find clutter or obstructions in your corridors, talk to your neighbours about it. If you are unable to find a solution between yourselves report it to on 01392 265596/265159.

Although a rare occurrence for us, recently there was a fire within the stairwell of one of our blocks of flats. Fortunately, nobody was injured in this incident, but there is extensive smoke damage to the stairwell. This fire could have been prevented.

It is important that we are all aware of the risks associated with fire and that we all play a part in ways to prevent further incidences occurring. It appears that there was a bicycle, set of golf clubs and a pool table stored under the stairwell. These had been ignited and it was enough to cause considerable damage as well as distress to the residents.

As a responsible landlord, we want to protect and keep our tenants, families and visitors safe, and stress the importance of keeping communal areas free of any items.

Our Implementation Team have, over the last few months, been inspecting communal areas and identifying areas of risk. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that in the event of a fire, such as this one, the escape routes are clear and safe and should a fire occur, the building can be evacuated safely. No personal possessions of any  description are to be kept or stored in the corridors, stairwells or public areas within the blocks of flats.

Some of our tenants and leaseholders feel it might be an intrusion of their privacy. Although we understand and respect this, we have a duty to ensure that in the event of a fire, residents, can evacuate the building safely. Also, it’s important that members of the emergency services do not injure themselves on items left in the route of escape. In order to achieve this, the escape route must be clear of any obstacles, hazards or combustibles. This includes doormats, plant pots, shoes, recycle bins, rubbish bags, bicycles, buggies, pictures etc. The list is not exhaustive. We have even seen these areas being used to store white goods, cardboard boxes, old car batteries and tool boxes.

Flames from a fire can cause serious injury and many of the by-products of a fire are toxic. Fires generate smoke, soot, and corrosive by-products. Smoke and fumes will hinder safe evacuation from the building. 

To prevent and minimise these risks, we are requesting your assistance to remove all of your personal possessions from the communal areas. Do not store any rubbish outside your front doors and take them to the designated bin areas. Keep the communal front and back doors locked securely. This prevents unauthorised access and keeps the buildings secure.

If you spot anything suspicious then either call the Police (if out of hours) or your Housing Officer. Any faults with the door entry system report to the Repairs Line Exeter 265031.

If you still have concerns you can contact the Fire Service in confidence on 01392 872288 (Monday to Friday, 9:00 – 17:00) to be put through to your local fire safety team. Or alternatively email

More information and advice for council tenants can be found in InSight on our website, our quarterly tenants’ and leaseholders’ magazine which is packed with news and information of use and interest to readers.

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