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Coronavirus (COVID-19) fire safety 

We are still carrying out fire risk assessments and routine fire safety checks in high rise, low rise and Housing Plus buildings, to make sure they stay a safe place for our residents and staff.

For information about staying safe during the coronavirus pandemic, visit Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service: COVID-19.

If there is a fire in your building, it is vital that everyone can leave as quickly as possible by the nearest exit.

This will be more difficult if fire exits and shared walkways are blocked. Please do not leave belongings in shared areas or by fire exits.

Please make sure that you, your family and visitors know where the nearest fire exits are in case there is an emergency.

We check the fire doors when we carry out our estate inspections. If a fire door in your building is not working properly, you should report this as a repair.

High rise and independent living

If you live in Durham Court, Monastery Court, Ellen Court, Wilkinson Court, Joseph Collin House or Riverside Apartments your smoke detectors are monitored by South Tyneside Homes and will be tested on an annual basis.

Domestic dwellings

Always remember to test your smoke and heat detectors on a weekly basis by pressing the detector's 'Test' button for 5 seconds, if the alarm is chirping it is likely a battery replacement is required.

Did you know?

  • You're twice as likely to die in a fire if you don't have a smoke alarm that works
  • 90 people die each year because the battery in their smoke alarm was flat or missing
  • Over half of home fires are caused by cooking accidents
  • More than five fires a day are started by candles
  • Every three days someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette
  • Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets) cause around 7,000 house fires across the country each year

Smoke alarms

  • It is advised that you have working smoke alarms within your home
  • If you already have an alarm, you should test it weekly to make sure it works
  • Please do not tamper with the detectors within your home. They are there to provide you with an early warning in the event of a fire and could save your life
  • If your alarm keeps going off, please check the batteries and replace them if necessary. If it still continues to go off, call us on 0300 123 6633

How to prevent common fires in the kitchen

  • Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and sauce pan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.
  • Take extra care if you need to leave the kitchen while cooking, take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk
  • Make sure saucepan handles don't stick out - so they don't get knocked off the stove
  • Take care if you're wearing loose clothing - they can easily catch fire
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob
  • Double check the cooker is off when you've finished cooking
  • If you have an extractor fan, please turn this on when cooking
  • Don't put anything metal in the microwave

Take care with electrics

  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order. A build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire


How to avoid electrical fires

  • Always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating
  • Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it
  • Check appliances against product safety recalls
  • Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high powered
  • Try and keep to one plug per socket
  • Keep your eyes peeled for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow, circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons, or flickering lights
  • Check and replace any old cables and leads, especially if they are hidden from view
  • Unplugging appliances helps reduce the risk of fire
  • Unplug appliances when you're not using them or when you go to bed.

An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload them.


  • Always make sure that your furniture has the fire-resistant permanent label.

Using an electric blanket

  • Don't leave electric blankets folded as this damages the internal wiring. Store them flat or rolled up instead
  • Unplug your blanket before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use
  • Try not to buy second hand blankets and check regularly for wear and tear

Portable heaters

  • Try to secure heaters up against a wall to stop them falling over
  • Keep them clear from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes
  • Do not use portable gas heaters!


  • Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully. Put them out... Right out!
  • Never smoke in bed
  • Use a proper ashtray - never a waste paper basket
  • Make sure your ashtray can't tip over and is made of a material that won't burn
  • Don't leave a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe lying around - they can easily fall over and start a fire
  • Take extra care if you smoke when you're tired, taking prescription drugs, or if you've been drinking. You might fall asleep and set your bed or sofa on fire
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children's reach
  • Consider buying child resistant lighters and match boxes


  • Put candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they're put out completely at night
  • Use a snuffer or a spoon to put out candles. It's safer than blowing them out when sparks can fly
  • Children shouldn't be left alone with lit candles
  • Make sure any tea lights are kept in a suitable holder
  • Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire - like curtains!

Be prepared

Make an escape plan:

  • Plan an escape route and make sure everyone in your property knows how to escape
  • Make sure exits are kept clear
  • The best route is the normal way in and out of your home
  • Take a few minutes to practice your escape plan
  • Review your plan if the layout of your home changes
  • Keep door and window keys where everyone in your home can find them

What to do if there is a fire

  • Keep calm and act quickly, get everyone out as soon as possible
  • Don't waste time investigating what's happened or rescuing valuables
  • If there's smoke, keep low where the air is clearer
  • Before you open a door, check if it's warm. If it is, don't open it - fire is on the other side
  • Call 999 as soon as you're clear of the building. 999 calls are free on all phones.

Don't tackle fires yourself. Leave it to the professionals.

Before you go to bed

Make a bedtime check, you are more at risk from a fire when asleep, so it's a good idea to check your home before you go to bed.

  • Close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading
  • Turn off and unplug electrical appliances unless they are designed to be left on - like your freezer.
  • Check your cooker is turned off
  • Don't leave the washing machine on
  • Put candles and cigarettes out properly
  • Make sure exits are kept clear
  • Keep door and window keys where everyone in your home can find them

Fire in flats

Flats are built to be fire proof, and most fires don't spread further than one or two rooms, however you will need to know how to get out if there is a fire in your flat.

Plan an escape route, and make sure that everyone in your family knows it. Fire instruction notices are provided in high-rise buildings. Make sure that you have read them, and that your family knows what they say.

The door at the front of your flat is designed to protect you from a fire in the corridor outside your flat for at least half an hour. If this door is in any way damaged or altered, it may no longer provide the right level of protection. You must not replace this door with one of your own or make any alterations (such as removing the closing device, fitting your own locks, letterbox, spyhole or vents) to this door. You must report any damage to the door to our Contact Centre as soon as possible on 0300 123 6633.

There may be additional fire doors in the corridors outside your flat. These are designed to prevent fire spreading along the corridor. You must not prop these doors open at any time.

If there is a lift in your building, you must not use it if there is a fire. It may stop working and you may get trapped in it.

Corridors, stairs and landings

You must keep communal stairs, landings and corridors free of any items that might cause an obstruction or trip somebody up. You must not keep furniture, motorbikes or bicycles, toys or any other large item in these areas.

You must remove any items from these areas if asked to by your Area Management Team.

Staying safe in flats

If you need a wheelchair or mobility scooter, you must keep them in your flat or in allocated areas if there are any. You must not keep or charge them in communal corridors.


You may smoke in your flat if you wish, or on any balcony that is only used by you or your family.

You may not smoke in any shared part of the building, including corridors, stairs, landings, balconies, common rooms, laundries or shared kitchens or toilets.  It is against the law to smoke in these

Waste materials and rubbish chutes

You must not place any waste materials or unwanted furniture in common corridors. This maybe a fire hazard or cause an obstruction or injury to someone else. You must not on any account throw any item, including waste, from any balcony or window.

Please do not use the refuse chutes for any items other than general household waste. These chutes are designed for use with carrier bags or small bin liners - not large refuse sacks. Please do not try to force a large refuse bag full of waste into a chute as it will block the chute.

Please do not remove a waste chute cover or leave the door to the chute room open as these are designed to help prevent the spread of fire.


Please try and keep the building secure. Always close the entrance door behind you, and never prop it open. Anybody who has official business in the building will have their own key or will carry identification with them. Always ask to see identification if somebody asks you to let them into the building.


Please park considerately outside the flat, in marked parking areas if possible. You may not park in any hatched area, or directly outside any access or fire exit door. Please make sure that you leave enough space for ambulances and fire engines to get to flats and turn around.


As well as reporting faults in your own flat, please report faults or damage in communal areas.

This helps keep everyone in the building safe.

Report a repair

Emergency repairs

If a repair is an immediate risk to people or a property it can be reported using the 24 hour contact number 0300 123 66 33.

This service is for emergencies only so please only use it for genuine emergency repairs. If we find that the work was not actually an emergency you may be charged.