Danger on your doorstep – Three things you didn’t know about fires in social housing

As we head into what is sure to be a difficult winter for those who are already struggling to keep on top of their energy bills, we take a look at the landscape when it comes to fuel poverty, and why that places danger on the doorstep of everyone in high-rise buildings.

Fuel poverty is a killer

When people can’t pay their energy bills or are in debt to an energy company which they can’t afford to repay, they’re likely to look around for cheaper alternatives, no matter how unsafe they might be. Risky home heating practices, such as bringing gas canisters into high-rise and high-risk buildings, become more common as budgets tighten. In Scotland, an average 24% of the population faces some level of fuel poverty, leaving more homes than ever before at risk of fire. Although not strictly true, the perception that using gas cylinders is cheaper is fairly common, and as more tenants begin to struggle with making ends meet, the likelihood is that more will begin to take risks when it comes to keeping their homes and families warm.

Feeling the fire risk at home

Households which are classed as being in material deprivation already have a host of difficulties to deal with, but those living in them also have an extra worry that many of us don’t: 8.9% report feeling unsafe from fire. Sadly, that’s because they are – the danger on the doorstep is very real when you live closely with others.

Dwelling fires are most common in social housing, at 3.4%, and the general fire risk is also higher than average at around 6%. While these numbers are already worrying enough, this disparity is only likely to increase as more households tip into fuel poverty this winter.

The true cost of fire is unknown

The longer-term cost of fire to people and property is estimated to be an aggregated £1.1billion, but this doesn’t take into account the significant impact of trauma upon those involved. Close to 1 in 5 people who have been in a fire incident report long-term psychological trauma, the cost of which isn’t included in the overall figure. We should also consider the cost to families who find themselves trapped in flats which can’t be sold due to unsafe cladding, leading to mental health and anxiety-related problems. As a social housing provider, it’s important to recognise the impact of fire, and fire risk, on people who feel unsafe and unable to control the actions of their neighbours; taking all measures to increase the physical safety of tenants, and improving their mental health by reducing fire anxiety, is a priority for landlords.

Tenant safety is the number one priority

Given the energy price increase, social housing providers have an even greater responsibility this winter to make sure that tenants are both safe and warm. Our metering and billing solution gives tenants direct real-time control over their energy bills, making payment easy and billing extremely accurate. Chameleon Detect, our remote monitoring system, ensures that no high-risk explosive items are brought into high-rise buildings, or are quickly and safely removed if they are. To find out more about how to keep your tenants safe and warm this winter, get in touch with the team at Chameleon Digitization today.