This week over 54,000 Irish students received their Leaving Certificate results, many of whom will now go on to third level education in the weeks ahead. For all, this is an exciting experience with many students leaving home for the first time. And so, the search for suitable accommodation begins in earnest.
There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing suitable student accommodation. Location, condition of accommodation, rents, bills etc. Fire Safety is one very important factor which can sometimes be overlooked, so this year we have decided to put together a quick guide for both parents and students.
1. Smoke/Fire Alarm
Whether you opt for a house, flat, bedsit or apartment you should ensure that your accommodation is protected by a working smoke alarm.
Rental houses should at a minimum have a mains wired smoke alarm or two 10 year self contained smoke alarms. Since 2009, every self contained apartment in a multi occupancy building should have a landlord fire detection and alarm system which protects the common area’s and extends to cover individual apartment lobby’s/exit routes. This is in addition to the mains operated detectors usually found in kitchen area’s.
- Ask your landlord to explain the features of the fire alarm system that protects your accommodation.
- Look for evidence that the landlord fire detection and alarm system is regularly maintained. There is a requirement on landlords to have these systems serviced and maintained by a competent person four times per annum.
- Confirm what action you should take in the event of an alarm activation, false or otherwise.
- Make sure you have an out of hours contact number for your landlord/designated representative as this is when most alarm activation’s occur.
2. Fire Fighting Equipment
All rental accommodation should be fitted with a fire blanket as a minimum. Common area’s should be fitted with portable fire extinguishers, however, whilst it is not a requirement of the landlord to supply individual fire extinguishers in self contained units, it is recommended and many do. If not it is worth investing in a small multi purpose extinguisher such as a 2 Kg ABC Dry Powder.
- Familiarise yourself with the location of all fire fighting equipment in your building.
- Where fire extinguishers are fitted, check to see if these are maintained annually.
3. Emergency Exits/Escape Plan
Carry out a visual check to ensure that all exits and escape routes are free from obstruction. All exit windows and doors should open fully and easily.In multi occupancy buildings, emergency lighting and directional signage should be provided on all common escape routes such as corridors and stairwells.
- Know and practice the evacuation plan for your building.
- Smaller houses and apartment complexes may not have an evacuation plan. In this case be satisfied that you have at least two ways out from every room.
4. Electrical Safety
- Carry out a visual check for any damage such as fraying to flexible cables, damage to plugs such as cracking or discoloration etc.
- Ask your landlord when the last electrical check was carried out by a competent electrician.
- Consideration should also be given to the number and location of power sockets to ensure there is sufficient power points for computers, T.V.s etc so as to avoid overloading.
Insurance for personal belongings is often overlooked. Ensure you have adequate cover for expensive items such as laptops etc.
Here’s to safe & happy studying!!
Author: Brendan Stamp, Principal Engineer, Guardian Fire & Security TECH IEI, IS3128 & IS291 Qualified