Your safety – fire, gas and asbestos

What to do if you're worried about gas, asbestos or a fire.


Many fires in the home are caused by simple carelessness, so remember:

  • put cigarettes out properly before emptying ashtrays
  • don’t smoke in bed
  • don’t dry or air clothes around fires or cookers
  • keep matches away from children
  • put fireguards around fires
  • unplug or switch off all electrical equipment not being used, look out for danger signs of faulty appliances or wiring such as:
    • hot plugs and sockets
    • fuses that blow for no obvious reason
    • lights flickering
    • scorch marks on plugs and sockets
  • close all doors before going to bed.
  • take extra care when frying chips or other foods - never leave a chip pan unattended. If it catches fire smother it with a damp cloth – do not throw water on the pan.
  • refrain from smoking in all internal common areas or blocks
  • remember – barbeques are not allowed on balconies
  • keep fire exits and escape routes clear. This could be a door leading from your home, a balcony walkway or any shared landing or staircase. The hall may be the only way out of your home so make sure there is nothing that might slow you down
  • be careful with candles and make sure they are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire, like curtains
  • store or charge e-bikes or e-scooters away from a main through route or exit.

Know the plan - advice issued by the London Fire Brigade

For further information visit smoke free England.

Visit: The London Fire Brigade

If a fire breaks out:

  • if it is safe too do so close all doors to prevent fire spreading
  • get everyone out quickly
  • call the fire brigade using 999 and give the exact address of the fire
  • use a neighbour’s phone or public call box - never go back into your home to use your own phone.
  • stay out of your home until the fire brigade tells you it is safe to return
  • if clothing catches fire lie down and roll around, as it makes it harder for the fire to spread. You can also smother the flames with a coat or blanket.
  • finally ... Have a plan. Know where you are going to go and what to do if there is a fire.

E-Scooters and e-Bike fire risk

e-Scooters and e-Bikes are becoming increasingly popular in the community but they can be a fire risk. London Fire Brigade attended over 116 fires involving e-Scooters and e-Bikes in 2022.

Fires from electrically powered scooters and bikes have caused eight deaths and at least 190 injuries in the UK since 2020 and are said to be the cause of at least six fires a week, according to safety campaigners.

On occasions batteries can fail catastrophically, they can ‘explode’ and/or lead to a rapidly developing fire. This can often block the means of escape from your home.

Electrical Safety First has also produced an article on the growing dangers.

‘Why are e-scooter and e-bike batteries exploding in people’s homes and what can be done about it? (pdf)

Follow the safety instructions

It’s important to follow the safety instructions. Both the London Fire Brigade and the National Fire Chiefs Council provide advice about storing and charging e-bikes and e-scooters.

Smoke alarms

It is important to regularly check your smoke alarms in your property for your own protection and safety.

How to test your battery operated smoke alarm:

  • Press the test button until the alarm sounds.
  • If the alarm does not sound try cleaning it and test again.
  • If the alarm still does not sound you need to change the battery. If it is still not working you will need to replace the alarm. 
  • If your smoke alarm starts bleeping on a regular basis you must change the battery immediately.

If you have a hardwired smoke alarm (one that doesn't have batteries) and after testing it is still not working please report it to housing repairs. Please fill in the online housing repairs form or contact us on 0800 023 4499 or email

How to replace the battery in your smoke alarm:

  • Open the alarm by taking off the cover and unclipping the battery. 
  • Secure the new battery firmly into place ensuring you put the battery in the exactly same position.
  • Close the alarm and press the test button to check it is working correctly.


  • Test the batteries in your smoke alarm once a week.
  • Change the battery every year.
  • Never cover, disconnect or disable your smoke alarm.
  • If you have difficulties hearing you can get strobe light and vibrating-pad smoke alarms

If you are an H&F council tenant and don’t have a smoke alarm or it's not working, please fill in the online housing repairs form or contact us on 0800 023 4499 or email

For further information visit The London Fire Brigade website.


Gas can be dangerous if appliances are misused or not checked regularly. We are required by law to carry out a regular check in all homes which have gas for the safety of our residents.

More of you than ever before have given our contractors access and had their gas supply and appliances checked within the past year, we are very grateful for your cooperation.

Why the big fuss?

Every year about 30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues which have not been properly installed or maintained. When gas does not burn properly, excess carbon monoxide is produced which is extremely poisonous.

You cannot see it. You cannot taste it. You cannot even smell it. But it can kill in just a matter of hours.

Useful publications

Contact us

H&F Maintenance is responsible for delivering a repairs service to council tenants and leaseholders.

For information about gas safety checks or to book a gas safety appointment, call the customer services centre on 0800 023 4499 (free from landlines and mobiles).

What to do if you smell gas

  • turn off the gas at the meter unless it is in the cellar or basement
  • do not smoke or strike matches
  • do not turn electric switches on or off
  • put out any naked flames
  • open the doors and windows
  • keep people away from the affected area

National Grid emergency number

If you smell gas or are worried about gas safety, you can call the gas emergency number on 0800 111 999 at any time, day or night. Your call will not cost you anything.

If you're deaf or hearing impaired and you have a minicom or text phone, the number to call is 0800 371 787.


This guide will help you to understand more about asbestos. It explains what it is, where it could be found in your home, why it might be a problem and how to deal with it.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material. It was extensively used as a building material because it was cheap, with fireproofing properties, and it could be shaped and incorporated into many different products.

Why might asbestos be a problem?

Asbestos cannot harm anybody unless they breathe in asbestos fibres. Therefore, products containing asbestos do not normally present a problem unless they become damaged or worn, and the asbestos fibres released into the air.

If this happens, the fibres can be breathed deep into the lung where they may stay for a long time.

As a leaseholder of a council property, you have a responsibility to get permission from us before starting any improvement or refurbishment work to your home. For the purposes of minor DIY, a list of possible material groups which may contain asbestos are provided here. Under no circumstances should you attempt to carry out any DIY on these materials without getting permission from the us.

If in doubt - ask!

Contact your local housing office

What should I do?

If you’ve been told or suspect there is asbestos in your home – don’t worry. It is very unlikely that the levels of any asbestos fibres in your home will be harmful. Asbestos products cannot harm you unless there are loose fibres which can be breathed in over a long period of time.

If you think you might have damaged asbestos materials in your home you should tell us straight away.

Where might I find asbestos?

Asbestos is present in many different materials and common uses in the home include decorative textured coating to ceilings and walls, plastic and vinyl floor tiles, toilet cisterns and seats, some sink pads, asbestos cement water tanks, some boards to roofs, corrugated cement garage / shed roofs, and asbestos insulation board (AIB) fire-lining to communal risers and gas meters.

There are many other uses which are less common in the home such as sprayed fire-coating to structural steel, and thermal insulation ‘lagging’ to pipes and boilers.

Building materials containing asbestos were widely used from 1930 to the mid 1980s. This means houses or flats built or refurbished at this time may contain asbestos.

It is not always easy to tell whether a product contains asbestos, because modern asbestos-free materials often look similar

It is usually best to leave asbestos materials in good condition where they are rather than disturb them.

Occasionally it is unwise to have asbestos materials removed. For example, fire protection materials cannot be removed unless they are replaced with suitable alternatives.

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