The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Community Fire Safety – Part 3

May 28, 2019 2:38 pm

In LWFs blog series for those who work in Facilities Management, or who have an interest in or responsibility for Fire Safety, we have been looking at Community Fire Safety. In part 2, we discussed some of the changes that have come to pass since the 1997 ‘Safe as Houses’ report, including the formalising of the Fire and Rescue Service’s activities promoting fire safety. In part 3, we take a look at the National Smoke Alarm Campaign.

In 1987, the government launched a community fire safety initiative called the ‘National Smoke Alarm Campaign’. The campaign had come about through two developments. The first was that technology and manufacturing processes had made it possible to create large amounts of affordable smoke alarms. The second was the publication in 1988 of ‘Smoke Alarms for the Home’ which was a government produced document positively advocating the installation of smoke alarms in dwellings by householders.

The basis of the campaign from government perspective was that statistical evidence had showed the potential for fatalities in a fire situation was drastically reduced if the fire was first detected by a smoke alarm. Current statistics back up that belief and suggest a reduction in factor of between two and three.

In 1988, a pilot campaign was launched in the north-east of England which successfully led to twice the amount of homes having smoke alarms, when compared to before the campaign. The government pressed ahead with a major campaign with the longer term aim of increasing smoke alarm ownership across the board by 1994. 

While the initial campaigns were successful in that there was a significant increase in ownership, there were still areas in which improvement was required. The high-risk groups, which include the elderly and those households on low incomes, remained high-risk due to a lack of smoke alarm ownership. In 2004, the government decided to tackle this area of concern and launched a new four-year programme, backed by a £25m capital grant, to increase smoke alarm ownership with emphasis on these vulnerable groups.

The Home Fire Risk Checks targeted 1.23m vulnerable homes and provided them with long-life (usually 10-year), battery operated smoke alarms, along with other specialist devices such as smoke alarm kits for people with hearing disabilities. Fire and Rescue Services are able to access these funds on a case-by-case basis to provide fire suppression systems in high-risk households. The initiative has been reinforced more recently through the government’s ‘Fire Kills’ banner and media and publicity campaigns.

In part 4 of this series, LWF will look at fire education in schools. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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