Fire Safety Advice

This information is to provide simple guidance to assist you taking steps to make sure your home is safe, and that your Helpful Housemate won’t be injured because of the condition of your home. 

Any furniture you provide must comply with fire safety regulations. So, if you have any older furniture (pre-1988), you should check for labels to make sure that it is compliant.

You must also ensure that exits are clear in case of an emergency and a need to evacuate. You may also wish to provide a small multi-purpose fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket in the kitchen area. These can be purchased from larger DIY outlets.

The Host is responsible for ensuring that furniture and furnishings they provide comply with the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended). 

Some materials used to fill or cover furniture may be a fire risk, highly flammable and may produce poisonous gases on burning eg cyanide or carbon monoxide. The regulations are set to phase out potentially dangerous furniture and furnishings and ensure that those left or newly provided can pass tests for fire safety.

The Regulations were progressively introduced from November 1988; any domestic furniture purchased after March 1990 should be fit for use in let accommodation.

The best way to assess compliance is by looking for a permanent manufacturer’s label stating that the item complies with the Regulations, together with the warning


Some of the products covered by the Regulations:

  • Furniture intended for use in a dwelling (eg armchairs, sofas, padded seats, loose and stretch covers)
  • Beds, headboards and mattresses
  • Sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles
  • Pillows, scatter cushions, seat pads, bean bags
  • Garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling

The regulations do not apply to:

  • Sleeping bags
  • Bed clothes (including duvets and pillows)
  • Loose covers for mattresses
  • Curtains and carpets
  • Furniture manufactured before 1st January 1950
  • Any furniture the Helpful Housemate owns and brings to the accommodation

2. Electrical installations and equipment.

Electrical equipment and wiring are common causes of fire. Make sure your electrical wiring has been checked and tested by a qualified contractor at least every five years. Look out for any visible signs of damage to cables, cracked or loose sockets. The fuse board and circuit breakers should be in good condition ad correctly labelled.

Electrical appliances should be subject to regular checks to ensure that appliances remain in safe working condition in accordance with manufacturers instructions. Check plugs are not damaged or overloaded and have properly rated fuses, and that cables are not frayed. Washing machines, tumble dryers and other white goods should be kept clean and in good working order. Any lint filters should be cleaned regularly. The use of extension cables, trailing leads and adaptors should be avoided wherever practicable.

3. Smoking

Smoking is a common cause of fire in domestic premises and results in more fatalities than any other cause. If you or you allow people to smoke in your premises suitable provisions – such as safety ashtrays and bins – should be provided for the safe disposal of cigarettes and other smokers materials. A fire extinguisher on the premises is also mandatory

4. Arson

Where appropriate, entrance and exit doors should be adequately secured to prevent unauthorised access, while still allowing easy escape.

Combustible materials, refuse and recycling bins should be kept clear of the premises to reduce the risk that an external fire could spread into the premises through windows and other openings.

5. Heating

Consider any risks associated with the use of heating in your property and take appropriate fire prevention measures.

Heating and hit water systems should. Be subject to annual maintenance by a qualified contractor to ensure that they are maintained in good conditions.

The use of portable heaters should be avoided as far as possible. If used, follow the manufacturer’s guidance on their safe use and, ideally, only use heaters fitted with automatic cut-off switches, such as electric oil-filled radiators. Avoid the more hazardous types of heaters such as the radiant bar fires or LPG heaters. Never place heaters close to combustible materials or within exit routes.

Carbon monoxide detectors should be provided where living accommodation contains a gas or solid fuel-burning appliance.

If you have open fires or log burners you need to consider the following measures;

  • A fire/spark guard and metal ashbins should be provided
  • The chimney should be swept at least annually
  • Where necessary, spark arrestors or bird guards should be provided (e.g. properties with a thatched roof)
  • The size of the hearth should be adequate to prevent rugs and fabrics touching hot surfaces
  • Appropriate instructions should be given to all users

6. Cooking

Ensure cooking appliances are kept clean and maintained in good condition, and that instructions for safe use are made available. Gas appliances must be checked and serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Any extract filters should be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid the build-up of grease and flammable deposits

It is recommended that deep fat fryers should only be permitted if they are thermostatically controlled.

LPG cookers should have cut-off devices installed on pipework from external source to internal cooking appliance.

7. Candles

Candles and tea lights are a common cause of fires and, sometimes, fatalities

You should not provide candles, tea lights or ethanol burners for use by houseguests (including Helpful Housemates). If the Host wishes to burn a candle they must never be left unattended and there must be a fire extinguisher on the premises. 

8. Housekeeping

Good housekeeping is fundamental to reducing the risk from fire. 

Domestic waste should be removed from the property regularly, and clear instructions should be provided on the safe disposal of waste.

Common escape routes, including halls and staircases, must be kept clear of combustible materials or storage.

This document is for guidance only – for full details go to The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988