Students – Make Fire Safety Your Priority

bookshelves in library

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging students to make fire safety their priority. We know that your university experience might be a little different this year and students are faced with unprecedented challenges, but fire is still a very real risk.

This week (26 October – 1 November) is Student Fire Safety Week, and we’d like to take this opportunity to help you brush up on your fire safety practices, especially as many students will now be spending more time in halls of residence.

Ian Barks, Central Hub Prevention Manager, said: “Universities are facing additional challenges this year, but the risk of fire is as real as ever. With more students spending time in halls or private houses, following some simple safety advice will help reduce the risk of a fire in your home. Make sure you know your fire safety rights when it comes to rented accommodation, and make sure you have working smoke alarms installed to give you the vital time to escape if there were to be a fire.”

The University of Reading’s Deputy Fire Safety Advisor, Kevin McGovern, added: “Student Fire Safety Week is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of fire safety. It is really vital to know how we can help others and ourselves to stay safe and be aware of issues with fire. It is also great to be collaborating with RBFRS.”

Home Office fire statistics show that of the 162 fires attended by fire and rescue services at student halls of residence in 2019/20, 66 percent were started by cooking appliances.

To help prevent a fire in your home:

  • Avoid cooking when under the influence of alcohol.
  • If a pan catches fire, don’t take any risks. Turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so. Never throw water over it and don’t tackle the fire yourself.
  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water.
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.

If a fire were to start, there are ways that you can help protect yourself.

  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working by testing them weekly. All landlords are required to fit at least one smoke alarm on each floor of the premises. Don’t be tempted to cover smoke detectors in your halls – they could save your life.
  • Propping open fire doors might seem like a good way to avoid touching door handles in shared accommodation, but it’s a serious fire risk as they’re designed to stop a fire from spreading. Make sure they’re kept closed.
  • Remember to keep fire exits clear at all times, and don’t block them or lock them to ensure people can’t get into buildings where people may be self-isolating. If you’re using a bike rather than public transport, make sure it’s stored somewhere where it won’t be a trip hazard in the event of a fire.
  • Do you know your escape route? You might have moved into a new flat or house and may be unfamiliar with the layout – take the time to make sure you know how to escape if there were to be smoke blocking your vision. If you’re in halls, make sure you know your evacuation strategy.

For more information on your fire safety rights as a student, you can visit the Government website, or contact the University of Reading at: safety@reading.ac.uk

For more ways to stay safe in your home, visit our Safety at Home webpage at rbfrs.co.uk/homesafety