CDS supports Student Fire Safety Week – and says accommodation providers have an important role to play

News | October 2020

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Students across the UK are having far more to contend with than they planned this year – with hundreds being confined to their accommodation after Covid outbreaks and everyone having to socially distance and avoid big parties.

Among the new responsibilities to take on board are the messages shared by fire brigades across the country during Student Fire Safety Week, which takes place from October 26 until November 1.

CDS, which has been installing, maintaining and servicing fire safety systems at universities across the country for more than 30 years, supports the advice being issued by the fire service to young people for whom fire safety may not even be on the agenda.

Students are being issued with a ten-point checklist to help them reduce fire risks in their accommodation, which includes warning against propping open fire doors and covering smoke alarms.

In London alone the capital’s fire brigade attends around 60 fires a year in student accommodation. In some cases – 19 over the past five years – no fire or smoke alarm was activated.

Over the past three years there were 3,200 false alarms from student accommodation – wasting valuable 999 resources which could have been deployed elsewhere.

CDS MD Simon Abley said: “Obviously it’s very important that students understand how to play their part in staying safe in their new home.  But as these figures from the London Fire Brigade suggest, it is also the responsibility of the landlords to ensure that their fire safety systems are fully functioning and compliant.

“This means ensuring all early detection systems such as alarms and sprinklers are not only installed but maintained and monitored. Some send a remote signal to a central control panel, meaning that false alarms can be checked before they get as far as the fire brigade. An unnecessary callout to a false alarm could mean the blue light services aren’t available to deal with a genuine emergency.

“We are seeing more and more organisations coming to us for the latest British Standard compliant technology which uses 4G or the internet to monitor fire alarms away from the premises.

“It is also the responsibility of the landlord to have an emergency plan in place and this includes conveying it to the occupants of the building. If the student doesn’t know that a correctly installed and maintained fire door can give a vital extra 30 minutes before it spreads, then propping one open won’t seem like a big deal.

“It’s vital to use a competent, accredited supplier to install, maintain and service an alarm system. It’s also a good idea, for peace of mind and to ensure compliance for that organisation to carry out the risk assessment and emergency plan.”