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Fire safety

Fire safety across Lewisham's council homes and how to reduce the risk of fire at home

Our fire safety video explains what we’re doing to keep you safe from fire – and what steps you can take in an emergency.

What are we doing to keep you fire safe?

We work closely with the London Fire Brigade to make sure we’re doing everything possible to keep you safe in and around your home.

We are:

  • fitting sprinklers in housing schemes for older residents, hostels and some of our new homes
  • carrying out personal home fire checks for residents who may need extra help staying safe in the event of a fire
  • removing security grilles and gates attached to front doors and shared walkways – they make it harder for you to leave quickly during a fire, and harder for the fire brigade to enter
  • offering to remove leaseholders' security grilles and gates free of charge
  • doing regular fire safety inspections to the shared areas in your building and on your estate

Our top fire safety tips

There are many things you can do to prevent fires and stay safe. Remember in a fire, dial 999 immediately. Always follow advice from the London Fire Brigade.

  • fit smoke alarms and test them regularly
  • the London Fire Brigade carry out free fire safety checks and alarm fitting. If you or someone in your family has a disability the London Fire Brigade can offer a home fire safety visit
  • plan an escape route and meeting point
  • stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully
  • take care with candles, always use candle holders and keep them away from curtains and fabrics
  • keep fire lighting equipment out of reach from children
  • don’t overload electrical sockets, and check the fuse is adequate
  • report any electrical faults to us

Fire outside your home

Stay inside. You are usually safer in your home unless heat or smoke is affecting you. Close your front door and windows. This will prevent smoke from entering your home.

Fire inside your home

Get out of your home. Try to stay calm and get everyone out. If you can, close the doors to rooms to prevent smoke and fire spreading. If you live in a block close your front door to prevent smoke and fire spreading into the corridor/stairwell.


If there's a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor where there's less smoke and the air will be cleaner.

Do not use lifts in case of a fire

Use the stairs. If you live in a block, make your way out using the emergency exit staircase. During fires, lifts are dangerous because you may become trapped inside.

Call 999 – the emergency services will send the fire brigade to deal with the fire. Make sure you alert your neighbours and do not return to your home until the fire brigade tell you it is safe to do so.

Oil and chip pan fires

Oil and chip pans are common causes of household fires. Follow these simple rules to cook safely:

  • never leave the pan alone with the heat on – not even for a few seconds
  • never fill it more than a third full with oil or fat
  • never be tempted to cook with an oil or chip pan after consuming alcohol
  • if the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot – turn off the heat and leave it to cool
  • if a pan catches fire, do not attempt to move it and turn off the heat only if it is safe to do so
  • never use water or a fire extinguisher to put out an oil pan fire – water reacts with the oil and will cause a fireball

Charging and storage of e-bikes and e-scooters

The London Fire Brigade describes lithium-ion batteries on electric bikes (e-bikes) and electric scooters (e-scooters) as the capital’s fastest growing fire risk. In 2023 in London there was an e-bike or e-scooter fire once every two days on average.


  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when charging and always unplug your charger when it’s finished charging.
  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms. If you charge or store your e-bike or e- scooter in a garage or kitchen ensure you install detection, we recommend heat alarms rather smoke detectors for these areas.
  • Charge batteries whilst you are awake and alert so if a fire should occur you can respond quickly. Don’t leave batteries to charge while you are asleep or away from the home.
  • Always use the manufacturer approved charger for the product, and if you spot any signs of wear and tear or damage buy an official replacement charger for your product from a reputable seller.
  • Do not cover chargers or battery packs when charging as this could lead to overheating or even a fire.
  • Do not charge batteries or store your e-bike or e-scooter near combustible or flammable materials.
  • Do not overcharge your battery – check the manufacturer’s instructions for charge times.
  • Do not overload socket outlets or use inappropriate extension leads (use un-coiled extensions and ensure the lead is suitably rated for what you are plugging in to it).
  • In the event of an e-bike, e-scooter or lithium-ion battery fire, do not attempt  extinguish the fire. Get out, stay out, call 999.


  • Never store or charge e-bikes and e-scooters on escape routes or in communal areas of a multi occupied building. If there’s a fire, it can affect people’s ability to escape.
  • Store e-bikes and e-scooters and their batteries in a cool place. Avoid storing them in excessively hot or cold areas.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the storage and maintenance of lithium-ion batteries if they are not going to be used for extended periods of time.

Fire safety policy

We believe that ensuring the fire safety of our residents is a vital part of what we do. The fire safety policy sets out our commitments to this area of work and also outlines what we expect from residents to help us keep buildings safe from fire. Download and read the policy from the policy library.

Frequently asked questions about fire safety

Is there cladding on my building and, if so, what are you going to do about it?

Cladding made of brick or rendered concrete is not a concern. Where cladding has been externally fitted and is not made of brick or concrete, then this would have been fitted before Lewisham Homes took over management of the buildings. We have already made arrangements for samples to be taken of externally-fitted cladding and we will be using Government-approved testing laboratories to find out what the cladding is made of. We will do everything necessary to make you safe.

Should I still follow the ‘Stay Put’ advice if there is a fire in my building?

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) is still advising that if there is a fire in your flat, or you are affected by a fire, you should leave immediately. However, if there is a fire somewhere else in the building, LFB advises you should shut all doors and windows and stay where you are. Purpose-built maisonettes and blocks of flats are designed and built to give you protection from fire. Walls, floors and doors can usually hold back flames and smoke for 30 to 60 minutes. We advise residents to follow LFB advice. Further details can be seen on the LFB know the plan webpage: 


How often is my building checked to see if it is safe?

All our buildings are regularly risk assessed by an external specialist contractor and we work closely with LFB to ensure they are as safe as possible. We are now carrying out additional fire safety inspections. When our staff see anything in shared areas (including electrical intake cupboards and chute rooms) that could present a serious fire hazard – such as buggies or bicycles – we may remove the items without notice.

My building doesn’t have a sprinkler system. Will you install one?

Buildings that don’t have a sprinkler system are designed in a way that slows down the spread of the fire (see above). We recognises the benefit of sprinkler systems and is already installing them in all new developments. Once the Grenfell Tower investigations are complete we will be in a better position to know what type of sprinklers we might need to install.

My building doesn’t have an alarm system. Will you install one? Can we have a fire drill?

Buildings that don’t have an alarm system are designed in a way that slows down the spread of the fire (see above). Installing alarms, and having a fire drill to evacuate the building, is at odds with the ‘Stay Put’ policy (LFB advises residents should stay in their flat if they are not directly at risk of a fire). False alarms can also happen quite often, for example, caused by people smoking in shared areas. LFB advice is that having smoke alarms in individual flats is a much better early-warning system. You should check that you have one and make sure it’s working on a regular basis.

My building only has one staircase. Will you build another one?

Most buildings with one staircase were built in the 1960 and 1970s. They were designed in a way that means if a fire occurs in a flat, the flat would prevent the fire from spreading quickly and give time for the fire service to attend and put the fire out. A second staircase was not considered necessary. However, Lewisham Homes will further consider what changes need to be made once the investigation into Grenfell Tower is completed.

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Fire safety