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Fire safety: High-rise, Housing Plus and independent living flats


  1. Who this information is for
  2. What to do if there's a fire
  3. Tell us if you've got an illness or injury
  4. How we keep you safe
  5. Sprinklers
  6. How to keep your flat safe

Who this information is for

This information on this page is for people who live in: 

  • High-rise flats: 
    • Ellen Court, Jarrow (12 storey building)
    • Monastery Court, Jarrow (12 storey building)
    • Wilkinson Court, Jarrow (12 storey building)
    • Durham Court, Hebburn (18 storey building)
  • Housing Ventures Trust independent living flats: 
    • Whitburn Towers
    • Riverside Apartments
    • Joseph Collins House
  • Housing Plus buildings

What to do if there's a fire

You need to know what to do if there's a fire in your flat, or somewhere else in your building.

  • Know your fire escape plan
    When you move in to your flat, we'll create a fire escape plan that's specific to you. We'll talk to you about your capabilities and the location of your flat. Make sure everyone in your family knows the plan too. Make sure you tell us if your situation changes.
  • Read the fire instruction notices
    Read the fire instruction notices that are displayed in communal areas. Make sure everyone you live with knows what they say too.
  • Never use a lift if there is a fire
    It could stop working and you may get trapped in it.
  • Keep exits clear
  • Don't prop fire doors open
  • Know where your keys are
    Keep door and window keys somewhere that's easy to access, and make sure everyone knows where they are.

High-rise buildings

Our high-rise flats are built to delay the spread of fire for up to an hour.

  1. If you live in a South Tyneside Homes high-rise building, you should 'stay put', unless the fire is in your flat or on the floor that you live.
  2. Keep your front door and windows closed. Wait for instructions from emergency services. 
  3. If at any point you feel threatened or at risk, make your way out of the building to the fire assembly point. 

Our high rise buildings do not have aluminium composite panels cladding.

Tell us if you've got an illness or injury

If you have an injury or illness that limits your ability to move or respond you must tell South Tyneside Homes.

We will carry out an assessment to determine what support you might need to help you leave the building in the event of a fire.

Contact us

How we keep you safe

Safety is our top priority. 

These measures are in place to keep you safe:

  • Fire risk assessments
    We carry out annual fire risk assessments.
  • Fire safety checks every day
    We carry out daily fire safety checks. We check the fire alarm panel, check doors are closed, check there's no rubbish and nothing obstructing escape routes.
  • Smoke alarms
    The smoke alarm in your flat is hard-wired, as part of a fire alarm system. More about smoke alarms.
  • Fire doors and fire compartmentation
    Fire doors are used throughout our buildings to slow the spread of fire (for about 30 minutes to 1 hour). Our flats are also built to slow the spread of fire from one flat to another (for about 30 minutes to 1 hour).
  • Emergency lighting systems
    Emergency lighting systems are in place, and are routinely serviced.
  • Random inspections from the fire service
    Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service carries out random unannounced inspections of all our blocks.
  • Dry risers 
    Our high-rise flats and Riverside apartments have dry risers. A dry riser is an empty pipe that can be connected to a pressurised water source by firefighters. These are routinely serviced.
  • Neighbourhood Officers and Housing Plus Officers
    Our Neighbourhood Officers and Housing Plus Officers regularly visit tenants. Tell them if you have any issues or concerns.
  • Sprinklers
    High-rise and Housing Ventures Trust independent living buildings are protected with a sprinkler system. More about sprinklers.


High-rise and Housing Ventures Trust independent living buildings are protected with a sprinkler system. This includes your flat and communal areas.

A sprinkler will only start when the bulb (in the head of the sprinkler) reaches a temperature of around 74˚C.

Sprinklers will not start due to smoke alone. 

If one sprinkler starts, then others which are close by will also start (but not every sprinkler in the building). 

Make sure that you:

  • don't paint a sprinkler head or cover the plate - this can stop the sprinkler head operating at the set temperature and possibly not work at all
  • don't paint any exposed pipework with oil based paint - only water based paint should be used when painting pipework as this does not react with the material
  • don't hang anything from exposed pipework - this will put stress on the pipework and possibly break it
  • don't obstruct a sprinkler head with any object - the sprinklers have been positioned at precise locations to protect all areas
  • don't use paint stripping apparatus in close proximity of the sprinkler head - the heat could activate the sprinkler head into operating
  • don't attempt to remove the sprinkler head - this would activate the system and water will flow immediately

How to keep your flat safe

Report repairs straight away

Report any faults in your own flat, as well as faults or damage in communal areas.

Report a repair

Don't make changes to your front door

Don't replace your front door, and don't make any changes to it. This includes removing the closing device, fitting your own locks, letterbox, spyhole or vents.

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 damaged or changed in any way, it may not give you as much protection.

If your front door is damaged, let us know as soon as possible - report a repair.

Tell us if you want to install satellite TV

You must tell South Tyneside Homes if you are planning to have satellite TV installed.

Our flats are built to slow the spread of fire from one flat to another (compartmentation). 

We need to make sure that the installation of satellite TV doesn't effect the fire safety in your flat. 

Contact us

Keep communal doors closed

Never prop open any doors in the corridors. These are designed to stop fire spreading along the corridor.

Keep corridors, stairs and landings clear

Don't keep furniture, motorbikes or bicycles, toys or any other large item in these areas. These could cause an obstruction or trip somebody up.

Keep your mobility scooter in an allocated area

If you have a mobility scooter, keep it in an allocated area.

Don't keep or charge it in communal corridors, or in your flat.

This is because they can cause an obstruction and block escape routes. Mobility scooters are also powered by batteries that are highly combustible.

Keep your wheelchair in your flat or an allocated area

If you have a wheelchair, keep it in your flat or an allocated area.

Don't keep it in communal corridors.

This is because they can cause an obstruction and block escape routes.

Don't smoke in communal areas

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

You cannot smoke in any shared part of the building. This includes corridors, stairs, landings, balconies, common rooms, laundries or shared kitchens or toilets. It is against the law to smoke in these areas.

Dispose of your rubbish properly

  • Don't leave rubbish or unwanted furniture in corridors. This is a fire hazard and could cause an obstruction or injury to someone else.
  • Don't throw anything - including waste - from any balcony or window.
  • Don't use the refuse chutes for anything 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.
  • Don't remove the waste chute cover.
  • Don't leave the door to the waste chute room open (as these are designed to help prevent the spread of fire).

Keep the building secure

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.

Park considerately

Please park considerately outside the flat, in marked parking areas if possible.

Don't park in any hatched area, or directly outside any access or fire exit door.

Make sure that you leave enough space for ambulances and fire engines to get to flats and turn around.