Fire constitutes one of the biggest risks for the total loss of a park home and can threaten the life of residents. It is therefore important to assess fire related risks for park homes on an ongoing basis, and remain clear about the associated responsibilities, and act where appropriate. Where necessary fire safety provisions are not being met, the question arises what action residents (in particular) can take to successfully resolve another party’s ignorance or lack of action.
This article outlines key aspects of fire safety for park homes.
Responsibilities of a site owner
Section 5(3A) of the 1960 Act lays down procedures for licence holders relating to fire safety. Where the standards apply the fire authority must be consulted about the extent to which model standards are appropriate with regards to fire precautions. If there are no model standards or the view of fire authority differs from the model standards about site requirements, the view of the fire authority prevails. However, ss 5(3A) and 5(3B) do not apply where the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to the land. This order applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales including all caravan sites with common or shared parts and individual caravans which are let out, typically as holiday lets.
The Order requires the local authority to advise “the responsible person” (in practice this will be the licence holder) of his duty to ensure the safety of the premises and undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment (and continue do so on regular basis). Following the assessment, the Site Owner is under duty to implement the appropriate fire safety measures to mitigate the fire risk. The local authority must satisfy itself the site owner is carrying out his obligations under the Order in particular risk assessment.
When assessing fire risk on the site, the Site Owner should take the following into consideration:
- Spacing distance between mobile homes.
- Roads, Gateways & Footpaths – ensuring these are accessible and clear of obstructions. Emergency vehicle routes must be kept clear at all times. Roadways provided and intended for fire service access should be capable of supporting the weight of a 14-tonne fire appliance and be adequately maintained.
- Water supply for Fire and Rescue Service use – where buildings and permanent structures are located on a Park site, make sure that at least one external water hydrant should be provided as means for fighting fire on every site.
- Firefighting equipment – make sure there is adequate equipment on the site
- Fire warnings – you need to consider in advance if a fire breaks out how the alarm will be raised. The alarm can be battery or mains powered or a manually operated sounder such as gong or a siren.
- Maintenance – all equipment should be maintained on regular basis by a competent person and available for inspection when necessary.
- Notices – make sure there are clearly written notices on the site indicating the action to be taken in case of fire
- Fire Hazards – Grass and other vegetation should be cut at frequent intervals to prevent them from becoming a fire hazard. Open fires should be prohibited on sites. The use of barbecue facilities should be restricted. Gas/LPG/Heating/Cooking should be complying with guidance produced by LPGA Rules.
- Emergency Telephone
- Storing liquid petroleum
Where the park owner fails to take action with reference to fire safety obligations on the site, residents can try and raise the issues with the Site owner himself first. However, should this not lead to an acceptable outcome, residents should contact their Local Authority for assistance.
Local authorities have enforcement powers where the site owner fails to comply with the conditions of the site licence. The local authority can serve a compliance notice on the site owner. It is a criminal offence not to comply with the compliance notice.
In certain situations, the local authority can take action in their hands and carry out the essential works.
Fire-proofing your park home
Whilst it is impossible to protect a mobile home against fire completely, a resident can take preventive measures to reduce the risk of one breaking out. These measures are very similar to those that apply to any other home. By following few tips, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
- Every mobile home should be fitted with at least one smoke detector. Make sure it is working and change its batteries on regular basis. If you are struggling to install one yourself, contact your local fire brigade. They may be able to help. The same rules apply to a carbon monoxide detector.
- Keep a fire extinguisher inside your mobile home. Every household extinguisher is labelled A, B, or C, which tells you the types of fire the extinguisher, is effective against. A is ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, and cloth; B is flammable liquids, such as gasoline or cooking oil; and C is live electricity.
- Consider buying a fire blanket and keep it handy in the kitchen
- Check all your electrical appliances and sockets regularly for any signs of damage and deal with repairs immediately. Keep the appliances unplugged during the night or in your absence.
- Don’t use multi adaptors as they can be overloaded
- Don’t obstruct any vents
- Don’t leave any pots or other cooking equipment unattended. The same applies to candles.
- Keep gas cylinders outside your home
- Plan your escape route from your mobile home in the worst-case scenario
When your home meets the requisite fire safety standards, it may still be “as good as your neighbour’s”. Pay attention to potential fire hazards next door (e.g. cars parked or boats stored next to a home, BBQ gas bottles, garden sheds with stored paints), with a risk of fire spreading across.
Where potential fire hazards originate from your neighbour’s side of the fence, it is in the best interest of a good neighbourly relationship to address such issues directly. Just talk to your neighbour. Should this not result in an agreeable solution, the park owner can be the next port of call. After all, he as a ‘responsible person’ is under obligation to comply with relevant legislation.
Take Action if a Fire Strikes
- Smoke and toxic fumes are the leading cause of death in fires. That’s why it’s so important to get out immediately and stay out.
- Don’t try to fight your own fire. Leave immediately and call for help from a neighbours’ home.
- The clearest air is 12 to 24 inches above the floor, so crawl to the nearest safe exit.
- Carefully touch the bottom of all doors before opening them. If they’re hot, don’t open them. Find another way out.
- If your clothes catch fire, don’t run. Stop, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs, and roll until you smother the flames. Remember: stop-drop-and-roll.