Hampshire renters at risk from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning

Under embargo until 00:01 Thursday 25 July

New home safety scheme launches in Hampshire, supported by Hampshire FRS

Blue Watch, a new home safety scheme set up by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and supported by UK fire and rescue services, launches today in Hampshire – the first region in the UK – as new research reveals that landlords are failing to meet their responsibilities and are putting renters and their families at risk from fire and carbon monoxide (CO).

The research, conducted among landlords and renters in the South East, found that one in five (21%) landlords never worry about making sure their tenants are safe, yet one in 20 (5%) renters – the equivalent of around 20,000 renters in Hampshire – have had a fire in their home. Landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that appropriate safety measures are taken to keep their tenants safe.

The research in the South East found:

Blue Watch aims to make rental properties in Hampshire safer by supporting landlords to ensure the safety of their tenants. Landlords can join a register and have a validation of their property, carried out by 3SFire, the trading arm of Hampshire Fire and Rescue service. Once validated, the property is then endorsed by the Blue Watch logo – the sign of a safer property. Renters in Hampshire will be able to choose properties that are validated by the Blue Watch scheme.

Mark Rayner, Head of Operations 3SFire said: “In the last three years our firefighters have attended nearly 3,000 house fires across Hampshire. We are passionate about driving down this number, but as Blue Watch’s research shows, more can be done to improve the safety of rental properties. It’s disturbing to think that in thousands of households across Hampshire there are accidents waiting to happen because the right safety checks and procedures are not in place. This is why we are supporting Blue Watch, as it is a great opportunity to help landlords make their properties safer, which will help prevent accidents and deaths in our region.”

Two landlords from Hampshire have been prosecuted in the last year for failing to keep their tenants safe. In March this year, a landlord from Shirley in Southampton was prosecuted and fined £8,000 for putting his tenants lives at risk.  Fire investigators found a defective fire alarm, broken fire doors and an absence of a clear evacuation procedure. Last year, another landlord was fined more than £7,000 after a fire broke out in his Hampshire rental property. A post-fire inspection found no fire alarm, a blocked fire exit, fire doors not fitted with self closing devices and two more fire doors not maintained properly.

“It’s simple – a Blue Watch property is safer,” said Paul Fuller, chief fire officer and chair of CFOA services ltd. “Nearly 9,000 Brits were injured by fires in their homes last year and a further 4,000 suffered CO poisoning. As a serving fire officer I’ve seen this devastation firsthand and unfortunately renters are often more at risk than homeowners, as their safety is put in the hands of landlords who either don’t know their responsibilities, or choose to ignore them. There’s nothing worse than feeling unsafe in your home and for landlords it can be overwhelming having to think about meeting all their responsibilities. We have set up Blue Watch to help tenants stay safe and to relieve the burden on landlords. It is gratifying to launch in Hampshire first and I’m sure together with the local fire service we can help landlords keep their tenants safe and reduce the risk to life.”

Blue Watch provides landlords, letting agents and tenants with advice, support and products to make rental properties safer. Blue Watch offers a two-tier service for landlords and letting agents. It starts with a self-declaration checklist and the website recommends how safety measures and products can be installed, maintained and tested around the property. Step two allows you to book a visit by a Fire and Rescue Service trading company or trusted partner to have the property Blue Watch validated. Self-declarations cost £25 and the validation service costs £65 – both last for 12 months.

For more information visit: www.bluewatch.co.uk or call 0300 555 0220.

Media enquiries

Capita press office

Kindra Hyttner kindra.hyttner@capita.co.uk Tel: 0207 654 2154 or 020 7654 2399 (out of hours)

Natasha Goldspink natasha.goldspink@capita.co.uk Tel: 0207 6542 137

Notes to editors

Blue Watch is owned by CFOA Services Ltd, a trading company of the Chief Fire Officers Association. As a result, Blue Watch is officially backed by Fire & Rescue Services. Designed to raise awareness of the risks of fire and carbon monoxide, Blue Watch is setup to provide advice, support and products to landlords, tenants and homeowners. Capita plc delivers Blue Watch on behalf of CFOA Services Ltd.

Capita plc is the UK’s leading provider of BPO and integrated professional support service solutions. With 52,500 people at more than 350 sites, including 70 business centres across the UK, Europe, India and South Africa, the Group uses its expertise, infrastructure and scale benefits to transform its clients’ services, driving down costs and adding value. Capita is quoted on the London Stock Exchange (CPI.L), and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 with 2012 revenue of £3.3 billion and profit before tax of £426 million. Further information on Capita plc can be found at: www.capita.co.uk

CFOA Services Ltd (CSL) is a wholly owned trading company of the Chief Fire Officers Association.www.cfoa.org.uk

3SFire Ltd is the trading arm of Hampshire Fire and Rescue – one of the UK’s best fire and rescue services. The 3S stands for ‘safe, strong, secure’.  3SFire offers a unique set of expert and professional solutions to manage fire and risk in today’s world.  It does this by having access to the best people and the highest quality of resources available. Its values are to understand the needs of its customers and respond with consummate professionalism, delivering solutions with care and expertise. www.3sfire.co.uk.

3SFire offers a unique set of expert and professional solutions to manage fire and risk in today’s world. It does this by having access to the best people and highest quality of resources available... because safety is your concern and our business. Get In Touch