Safety and security

Your safety is the most important thing to us and as a responsible landlord it is a legal requirement for us to carry out regular safety checks on your home.

Download our 'Think Safety, Think Compliance' guide below for more information about what we do and what you can do to make sure you always feel safe and secure in your home. 

Safety first for fire

Your safety is and always will be our top priority. That’s why we are making sure our teams responsible for fire safety comply with every regulation and procedure. These are some of the actions Great Places has taken to ensure that we as a business and our customers think safety first when it comes to fire:

  • Cladding and coating samples were taken from all of Great Places’ tall buildings and sent to the BRE (Building Research Establishment) for combustibility analysis; We were advised that none of the samples were of similar material to the cladding installed at Grenfell.
  • We carried out new Fire Risk Assessments on all of our tall buildings; a fire risk assessment aims to identify fire hazards and people at risk, it also helps to determine what fire safety measures and management policies are necessary to ensure the safety of people in the building should fire occur.
  • We carried out joint site visits with local Fire Rescue Services.  
  • We reviewed our fire evacuation policies and procedures to ensure they were completely up to date.
  • We increased our site visits by the Great Places Fire Safety Officers and updated the contact information and fire safety advice notices in all communal entrance areas.
  • We updated our fire safety information on our website and as a downloadable PDF.
  • We worked closely with the Great Places Customer Insight Scrutiny Group who endorsed our approach which ensures  customer communication is delivered as intended, and any instruction to Great Places colleagues is acted upon consistently across all Great Places’ regional housing teams.
  • We will continue to work with local authorities and fire safety authorities and respond to official recommendation and guidance.   

Please be assured that your safety remains our top priority and we will continue to follow our stringent fire safety procedures at the buildings we own and manage. If you have any questions please call our Customer Access Team on 0300 123 1966 and ask to speak to the Compliance Fire Safety Team. Or email the Firesafetyandliftteam@greatplaces.org.uk

For more information on Fire safety and other Think Safety information click here: Think Safety, Think Compliance PDF

Think safety, think compliance

Your safety is the most important thing to us and as a responsible landlord it is a legal requirement for us to carry out regular safety checks on your home.

Great Places will always book an appointment with you to carry out these essential safety checks either by letter or telephone. Where possible we will do what we can to make sure that these appointments are convenient for you. However, you should be aware that your tenancy agreement states that:

‘The Tenant must allow the Association’s staff and contractors access to carry out its repair duties.’

‘Where services are provided, the Tenant must allow access for the Association’s employees/agents to provide these services.’

Where you have not let us in to your home to carry out these safety checks, we may ask the court for an Injunction Order to allow us to enter your home. We would also ask the court to make an order against you for any court costs.

IN THE EVENT OF A FIRE

What should you do?

If you live in a block that operates a policy of (stay put) and you discover a fire in a flat or common area, you should:
• Alert all occupants of the flat
• Do not use the lift
• Leave the building by the nearest exit
• Call 999 and ask for the Fire Brigade.

Other occupants not directly affected by the fire should:
• Stay Put in their flat unless directed to leave by the Fire Brigade
• Do not return to the building until instructed to do so by the Fire Brigade.

If your home is a single dwelling or a flat in a block that operates an evacuation policy you should take the following action:
• Sound the alarm
• Call 999 and ask for the Fire Brigade
• Leave the building by the nearest exit.

On hearing the alarm:
• Leave the building by the nearest exit
• Do not return to the building until instructed to do so by the Fire Brigade.

Your Neighbourhood Co-ordinator, Neighbourhood Officer or Fire Safety Officer will be able to tell you which evacuation procedure should be used at your home. Alternatively, if you live in a flat, refer to the red fire action notices which are displayed in all communal areas.

General advice

You should have an escape route planned that everyone at your address is familiar with. As you escape, remember:
• Don’t delay to save valuables or look for pets
• Don’t investigate the fire
• Crawl on the floor if there’s smoke – the air is cleaner near the floor, so put your nose as low as possible.
• As you go out, only open the doors you need to and close any open doors you can to slow the spread of the fire
• Before you open doors, feel them with the back of your hand – if they’re warm, don’t open them as this means the fire is on the other side
• If you’re escaping with others, stay together if you can.
• In schemes where there is a stay put policy, place wet towels at the bottom of the doors
• GP are responsible for smoke alarms, please don’t tamper with them.

Keep your escape route free from hazards and obstructions
Ensure the route to your means of escape is kept free from obstructions, such as items of furniture, bicycles andvrefuse, or any other item that could have the potential to be a slip or trip hazard. If your home is located in a block or scheme, this guidance should be applied to communal areas and corridors.


Fire doors
Fire doors should be kept closed and never propped or wedged open. Other internal doors should be closed when sleeping, as a closed door not only helps to contain a fire to a single room but also prevents the smoke (which contains hot, harmful, toxic gases) from spreading through the rest of the home. This will give you more of a chance of getting out safely.

Call the Fire Brigade on 999

Once you’re out and safe, call the emergency services free on 999. When you speak to the operator:
• Give your whole address, including the town
• Tell them what is on fire, for example ‘a two-storey house’
• Explain if anyone is trapped and what room they’re in – the more information you can give, the more quickly and effectively they can help you

Don’t go back in
You should find somewhere safe to wait near the building. If there’s someone still inside, wait for the Fire Brigade to arrive and tell them – they’re much more likely to be able to find them quicker than you. If you go back into the building, you will slow down the fire fighters’ efforts to rescue anyone else missing, as well as putting your own life in great danger.

Dealing with a fire in your kitchen
• Don’t move the item on fire because it will be very hot
• Turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so but don’t lean over the pan to reach the controls
• Don’t use a fire extinguisher on a pan of oil because the force of the extinguisher can spread the fire
• Never use water on chip pan fires as this will cause a fireball
• Get out and call 999 as soon as possible.

If an electrical appliance catches fire, don’t throw water on it. If it is safe to do so, you may be able to put out the fire immediately by:
• Pulling the appliance’s plug out
• Switching off the power at the fuse box.

If the fire doesn’t go out, get out of the house and call 999.

Safety tips if you smoke

Follow these safety tips to avoid causing a fire:
• Never smoke in bed – it’s very easy to fall asleep and allow your cigarette to set light to your bedclothes or furnishings
• Don’t smoke if you’re drowsy, especially if you’re sitting in a comfortable chair or if you’ve been drinking or taking prescription drugs – again, it’s easy to fall asleep
• Don’t leave a lit cigarette (or cigar or pipe) as they can easily overbalance and land on the carpet or other flammable material – instead, use a heavy ashtray that can’t tip easily
• Make totally sure that your butts (and any remains in your pipe bowl) aren’t still smouldering when you’ve finished with them – wet them and empty your ashtray into a metal bin outside the house
• Keep lighters, matches and smoking materials out of the reach of children – you can also buy child-resistant lighters and containers for matches.

Visit from the fire service

If you would like Home Fire Safety Assessment please get in touch with your local fire service, who will be happy to give you free advice and fit smoke alarms if necessary.

If you have concerns

If you become concerned about the serviceability of any of the fire safety equipment located at your premises or feel that the risk of fire has increased for any reason, please contact your Neighbourhood Co-ordinator immediately on 0300 123 1966.

Our customers’ safety is a top priority for Great Places Housing Group, and we’ll ensure that your gas appliances are serviced regularly and checked once a year.

When it comes to gas safety, it is a legal requirement that Great Places must:

  • Repair and maintain gas pipework,flues and appliances in safe condition
  • Ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue
  • Keep a record of each safety check

Appliance safety check
An appliance safety check includes checks and tests to appliances in your home. It’s necessary to ensure that the appliances you are using are safe and legally compliant.

How will it be carried out?
We will ensure that:

  • Gas appliances are correctly set and adjusted to ensure the gas is burning correctly
  • Gas appliances are of a type suitable for the room in which they are located
  • Gas appliances are physically stable, securely fitted and properly connected to the gas pipework
  • Gas appliances have an adequate and permanent air supply suitable for the appliance type installed
  • Any flues or chimneys are operating correctly
  • All safety devices function correctly

Appliance service

An appliance service will include all of the above checks and tests, plus any other specific checks, for inspection and/or cleaning of the appliance as specified in the manufacturer’s instructions.

How will it be carried out?

Your appliance service may include:

  • An analysis of the combustion exhaust gases to ensure the appliance is burning the gas safely
  • A check of the condition of the appliance, including (but not limited to) the effectiveness of any seals or gaskets, the cleanliness of heat exchangers ect, and checking for any signs of heat or other distress

Gas installation safety check

If a gas installation safety check (all appliances and internal pipework) is required, each appliance will need to be checked as outlined above and additionally:

• All accessible gas pipework will be visually inspected to ensure the installation is in good condition 

• The gas pipework will be tested to ensure there are no gas leaks.

When assessing an unsafe gas appliance, all engineers will follow the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP), which provides ‘best practice’ advice to engineers on how to deal with specific gas safety concerns.

Flues, chimneys and air vents

These all play an important role in the safe operation of gas appliances, allowing products of combustion to escape and ensuring a high level of ventilation. As cold as it might get during winter, never block up these airways, as this could result in a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide in your home.

Chimneys will need to be checked every year for blockages (such as birds’ nests and debris) which can prevent dangerous fumes from escaping. The Gas Safe-registered engineer will be on the lookout for these.

In order to stay fully gas safe in your property, you’ll need to be mindful of these potentially dangerous consequences of having poorly maintained or faulty gas appliances.

After they have worked on the appliance, the engineer may issue you with a report detailing the checks they’ve carried out. This could be a Gas Safety Record, depending on what work they have undertaken.

Gas leaks

Gas leaks can occur from faulty appliances and pipework. While gas is not poisonous like carbon monoxide (CO), leaks can lead to fires or explosions. A distinctive odorant is added to the gas to make it detectable – you can usually smell this briefly any time you turn a gas hob on. If you think you can smell gas, take action and call the free National Gas Emergency Number, 0800 111 999, immediately.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is another potentially deadly consequence of having poorly maintained or unsafe gas appliances in your home.

If you think you smell gas or suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, please take action and call 0800 111 999 immediately.

Great Places is legally responsible for your safety in relation to electrical fixed wiring in your home. By law, Great Places must:

• Make sure your electrical systems are maintained in a safe condition;
• Carry out electrical safety checks on your electrical systems (in most cases every five years);
• Have all installation, maintenance and safety checks completed by a registered electrical contractor.

 

Your responsibilities
We do not have responsibility to maintain or carry out safety checks for any appliances owned or installed by our tenants. As a tenant of Great Places, you have responsibility to allow access for any repairs and the safety checks to be completed.

 

Electrical safety check

What: An electrical safety check is a report confirming that the electrical installation in your home has been assessed and is safe to use (called an Electrical Installation Condition Report or EICR, previously referred to as a Periodic Inspection Report or PIR).

Why: The safety check not only confirms that any recent electrical work meets the UK national standards, but also that your home is safe. Great Places will also modernise/upgrade parts of the system if required to further ensure safety with devices such as Residual Current Devices (RCDs), which are life-saving devices designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock, as well as non-combustible boards.

When: Great Places colleagues carry out a periodic inspection and test of the electrical installation at our properties at least every five years, or on change of tenancy. On completion of the necessary inspection and testing, an EICR will be issued detailing any observed damage, deterioration, defects, dangerous conditions and any non-compliance with the present-day safety standard which might cause danger.

How: The electrical testing will involve a full visual inspection of your electrical system and accessories, as well as working at various points throughout your home. The engineers will advise which rooms they need to access to test and check various accessories such as socket outlets, light switches, light fittings and electric storage heater points. Where issues are identified such as faults or the need to replace an accessory, we aim to complete the works during the appointment to ensure your home is in a electrically safe condition. Once the testing and any associated works have been completed, the engineers will advise you of any changes such as the installation of RCD protection or new smoke detectors, and how to operate these.

 

Power cuts or meter issues (including hot/leaking meters)
If you experience a meter leak or a power cut, you should immediately do the following:

• Call the local electricity network operator free on 105
• Call Great Places on 0300 123 1966.

Your electricity network operator owns the cables which run up to your meter and are therefore responsible for any issues of faults therein.

 

Protecting yourself from electrical danger
Protect yourself, your neighbours and those you live with by following these simple steps:

• Check that sockets, switches and light fittings are in good condition with no signs of damage such as cracking or burn marks
• Check that leads (flexible cables) on appliances aren’t damaged or frayed
• Check that any electrical appliances provided by Great Places have up-to-date PAT (Portable Appliance Test) stickers on them
• Check that the fuse box has RCD protection. An RCD is a life-saving device that protects against electric shock and reduces the risk of electrical fires*
• Check that the wattage of light bulbs is not too high for the fitting.
• Check that fuses in plugs are of the correct rating.

 

Take action to reduce the risk of electrical accidents and fires
• Don’t overload sockets, limit the use of extension leads and do not use plug-in adaptors*
• Don’t attempt to use electrical appliances from overseas in the UK. Products manufactured for use in other countries may operate at a different voltage and frequency
• Don’t attempt any repairs to the electrical wiring or appliances yourself
• Don’t take mains-powered electrical products into the bathroom
• Don’t touch electrical appliances or switches with wet hands
• Don’t plug adaptors into adaptors, or extensions into adaptors/extensions
• Do call Great Places immediately on 0300 123 1966 if you think there is a problem with your electrics.

 

As your landlord, Great Places has a legal duty to ensure that the risk of exposure of tenants to Legionella is properly assessed and controlled. We are committed to working alongside our tenants to ensure you are protected from Legionnaires’ disease.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by Legionella bacteria including the most serious, Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age, but some people are at higher risk, including people over 45; smokers and heavy drinkers; those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, diabetes, lung and heart disease; or anyone with an impaired immune system.

How do people get Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by inhaling a small water droplet which can be suspended in the air, known as aerosols. Aerosols containing the legionella bacteria will pose a risk to susceptible individuals, infection is linked to susceptibility.

Certain conditions increase the risk from Legionella:
(a) The water temperature in all or some parts of the system is between 20-45 °C, which is suitable for growth
(b) It is possible for water droplets to be produced and therefore be dispersed
(c) Water is stored and/or re-circulated
(d) There are deposits that can support bacterial growth, such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms.

How can you manage Legionella?
• Hot water should be stored at least at 60°C and distributed so that it reaches a temperature of 50°C within one minute at the outlets. Your hot water cylinders or boilers have been set to the correct temperatures – please do not alter the temperatures or turn of the equipment.
• Cold water systems should be maintained, where possible, at a temperature of below 20°C.
• Regular movement of water is essential to the control of Legionella bacteria within a water system. It is therefore important to ensure all known outlets that are not used or those that are not used regularly are flushed on a weekly basis. Outlets should be flushed for several minutes to ensure the entire length of pipework has been cleared of any standing water. When performing flushing, please take care to minimise the amount of aerosols being produced, especially when performing this on a shower.
• When returning to your property from a prolonged period of absence (such as a holiday), please follow the above instructions and flush all outlets.
• Clean and descale your showerhead at least every three months.

If you have any concerns or require any additional advice regarding water hygiene please call our contact centre on 0300 123 1966.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring material. Asbestos fibres are extremely strong and resistant to heat and chemicals; this has led to its use in a wide range of building materials and products.

Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos fibres have been added to a range of building products and materials used in the construction industry since the early 1900s.

Asbestos-containing materials, if maintained in a good condition, are not dangerous. However, when it is damaged, sanded, scrubbed, drilled or sawn it can become dangerous. It could release fibres into the air if damaged, and if breathed in these can be harmful.

What to do if you think you have asbestos in your home
• Don’t panic – it is only a problem if it gets disturbed or damaged.
• Don’t disturb any damaged area or material that might contain asbestos.
• Don’t carry out any DIY. This includes sanding, drilling, sawing or stripping any area that may contain asbestos.
• Don’t clean, sweep or vacuum dirt or debris that might contain asbestos.
• Don’t remove any material that you think contains asbestos.

Contact us before you embark on major home improvements
It is vitally important for the safety of everyone in your home that before you carry out any alterations or improvements (including artex texture coatings, floor tile removal, sink alterations or changes to your home or garage roof) you seek permission from Great Places. We have an asbestos register, so we can check our records first to see if there is any likelihood of asbestos-containing materials in your home.

How is Great Places making homes asbestos safe?
Great Places is currently surveying many of our properties to identify any potential asbestos risks that may be present. We have an Asbestos Management Plan in place, which details how asbestos-containing materials will be managed to prevent exposure to airborne fibres.

By law, all non-domestic properties must have a survey carried out. Great Places has carried out asbestos surveys to all its communal areas. We have recorded the location of asbestos materials and, where needed, these have been removed or protected. Any asbestos materials left in place are re-inspected at regular intervals.

Keeping within set Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines and government policy, Great Places will leave any asbestos that is in good condition and is unlikely to be damaged, as it is safer to leave it where it is. Where there is a high risk, and asbestos has to be removed, we will use a specialist asbestos removal contractor.

 

Don’t take risks!
If you think you may have damaged asbestos in your home, let Great Places know immediately. If you don’t know whether something contains asbestos, call us on 0300 123 1966 and we will check our register. If we haven’t got a record, we can arrange to have the material professionally inspected and analysed and/or carry out a risk assessment.

If Great Places colleagues or our contractors need to visit your home , we will always do our best to let you know that we are coming.

Ask to see ID. Whether we have an appointment or turn up on the off chance, our colleagues and appointed contractors will always carry ID. If they don't show their ID card when they call, ask to see it before you let them in.

  • If you are unsure if visitors really are from Great Places check by calling us on 0300 123 1966 or via webchat.  
  • If you aren't sure don't let them in — genuine callers will wait or come back.
  • Great Places or our contractors will never ask for payment or collect monies from you.

If you have any doubts about the caller and their intentions and we have not been able to put your mind at rest, do not let them in your home and contact the police.