Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service wants it to be a legal requirement for all landlords to install smoke alarms in their properties.
It has highlighted how residents are up to four times more likely to die in a house fire if a working alarm has not been fitted. Statistics show such a device is less likely to feature in rented accommodation and therefore such residents are at a higher risk.
The fire authority said, while 12 per cent of properties are without a smoke alarm, 38 per cent of fire-related deaths are in homes that don’t have a working device. Between 2006/7 and 2011/12, there were 658 fatalities caused by blazes, with the cost to the economy coming in at £2.67 billion.
It envisages it will cost between £11 million and £13.7 million to fit ten-year smoke alarms in private rented properties that currently do not have one.
The government has recently started a review of private rented housing and will consider whether or not to introduce the law that all such accommodation must be equipped with a working device.
There will be a consultation to determine if the proposal has sufficient widespread support. There is a six-week window of opportunity in which the fire authority is preparing to make a compelling case for change.
While the force conceded fire deaths were “relatively low”, it reinforced its firm belief that landlords had a “moral duty” to ensure the safety of their tenants. It praised the best landlords for already meeting such high standards and taking the risks of fire seriously and said many of those were currently working with the authority to press for change.
It highlighted how it cost less than £2 a year to install a smoke alarm.
Anyone who wants to support the campaign is strongly urged to remind the government how important this life-saving law could be to help lower the number of fatalities caused by blazes. The hashtag #Alarm4Life can be used on social media sites and an infographic with the key facts can be viewed here.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.