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Fire safety advice for student accommodation building owners and landlords

In residential sleeping accommodation premises covered by the Fire Safety Order, the responsible person for the building should have considered the materials (Aluminium composite material (ACM) and otherwise) used for external cladding, insulation and wall systems to ensure that these features would not assist fire spread. 

Good fire safety management saves lives and protects property


Legislation requires that landlords carry out fire risk assessments in all areas of their properties. This process will identify any fire hazards and who is at risk and decide if

anything needs to be done to remove or reduce that risk.

Any properties that do not comply with fire safety legislation can be inspected by fire inspection officers and there can be legal action taken in respect of prohibition or enforcement notices.

Read more information about the Government Building Safety Programme, set up to ensure that residents of high-rise blocks of flats are safe and feel safe.


Government advice on cladding:

Fire doors


Responsible persons should ensure that their fire risk assessments evaluate the performance of any fire doors within their premises and ensure, where possible, that test evidence/certification is available to confirm performance.


Read further information about replacing entrance fire doors and for composite fire doors.

Smoke control in residential premises


Smoke control plays an important part in protecting means of escape in residential buildings in the event of fire. Smoke control systems aim to protect the staircase enclosure, but the system may also provide some protection to the adjacent lobby or corridor. Fire risk assessments ought to assess the suitability of the smoke control system and that there is sufficient evidence that the systems are maintained.

The government has more information about smoke control



Compartmentation is when a building or part of a building is constructed to prevent the spread of fire to or from another part of the same building or an adjoining building. Compartmentation is fundamental for both public and firefighter safety and has the following benefits:

  • Prevents the rapid spread of fire; which could trap the occupants of a building.
  • Reduces the chance of fires growing and creating a danger to occupants, fire and rescue services, and people in the vicinity of the building.
  • Limits the damage caused to a building and its contents.


Fire risk assessments should adequately address the suitability of compartmentation to support an effective evacuation strategy. Where there is doubt, a compartmentation survey by a suitable competent person should be carried out. When assessing these types of premises, it’s suggested, where possible, a more intrusive inspection is undertaken to validate the findings of the risk assessment. Grenfell and other fires have shown that compartmentation can be breached externally as well as internally and this should be a consideration.

Find out more about fire safety in purpose built flats


Interim measures 


The following guidance may also be of assistance:

Student accommodation and housing providers have a responsibility to comply with fire safety legislation and give advice to their tenants on the fire safety arrangements and procedures for their particular building.

The Service would like to reassure residents that we have on-going arrangements with housing providers in the Devon
and Somerset area, which aim to ensure the necessary fire safety standards are provided and maintained in all such buildings.

Not all buildings will be the same; some will have a procedure where on discovery of a fire or being alerted to a fire, the residents are told to evacuate the building, others, especially high rise buildings, may have a ‘stay put’ policy.  Other buildings will have ‘simultaneous evacuation’ strategies and it is important to fully understand which strategy your accommodation has?  

‘Stay Put’ policy

In certain premises and circumstances where the evacuation of the residents may pose a high risk during a fire, the building’s fire safety provisions may allow for residents to delay evacuation from their rooms/flats in the early stages of a fire occurrence. This is commonly known as a ‘Stay Put’ policy.

Types of premises where a ‘Stay Put’ policy may be encountered:

  • Sheltered accommodation
  • Blocks of flats

A ‘Stay Put’ policy involves the following approach

  • When a fire occurs within a flat, the occupants alerts others in the flat, make their way out of the building to safety and summon the fire and rescue service
  • If a fire starts in the common parts, anyone in these areas makes their way out of the building to safety and summons the fire and rescue service
  • All other residents not directly affected by the fire, would be expected to delay their evacuation, and remain in their flat unless directed to leave by the fire and rescue service.
  • It should not be implied that those not directly involved who wish to leave the building should be prevented from doing so. Nor does this preclude those evacuating a flat that is on fire from alerting their neighbours so that they can also escape if they feel threatened.
  • All corridors and escape routes need to be kept free of obstacles/storage that could prevent or hinder the safe evacuation of people leaving the building.
  • An approved fire alarm system is provided throughout where necessary and is properly maintained.
  • Suitable notices informing visitors, residents and the fire service that the premises is operating a ‘stay put’ policy, this should be displayed in a conspicuous location for all to see.


Please contact Community Safety Protection Department on 01392 872567 for assistance or email

All our safety information can be made available in other languages. Please contact 0800 050 2999 to request a copy.

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