Joining forces to keep tenants safe

Published 10th September 2013

Sandwell Council has teamed up with West Midlands Fire Service and Riverside Housing to increase its tenants' fire safety awareness.

More than 130 housing officers have been trained by WMFS to carry out home fire safety checks when they visit homes.

So far more than 600 checks have been carried out with the aim of visiting all of the council's 31,000 properties.

Council properties managed by Riverside Housing under a Private Finance Initiative are also included.

The trail-blazing initiative aims to help identify vulnerable people who may be at particular risk from fire, as well as spreading the word about fire safety.

The visits give housing officers the opportunity to look out for potential fire-causing hazards such as over-loaded electrical sockets, paraffin heaters, candles and the hoarding of items.

A special on-line training package has been commissioned by WMFS to help housing staff involved keep their knowledge up-to-date.

Councillor Mahboob Hussain, deputy leader of Sandwell Council and cabinet member for town and neighbourhood services said: "This is an excellent example of the council and West Midlands Fire Service working together to promote fire safety among residents.

"When housing officers are visiting tenants, they can now carry out a home fire safety check in the property at the same time, giving tenants the opportunity to raise any issues or concerns they might have about fire safety."

Station commander David Newman of West Midlands Fire Service, added: "One of our key priorities is reducing the number of deaths from accidental fires in the home. We also want to work with our partners to improve the safety, health and well-being of our local communities.

"The initiative has already helped us to identify and engage with many vulnerable people, which means they can be put in touch with other organisations for any extra help and support they might need."

Sandwell Council and West Midlands Fire Service are also planning a High-Rise Fire Safety Week from Monday 18 November-Friday 22 November which will target fire safety awareness at residents who live in the borough's 55 council-owned high-rise blocks.