Working from home can be a fire risk, warn firefighters

Last year there were around four fires every week in London involving electric heaters, candles and open fires, many of which could have been avoided. More than half of these occurred between the hours of 9am and 5pm and a common cause was due to portable heaters being placed too close to furniture or candles being used to light a room and falling onto carpets, papers or clothes.

Another risk for people at home is carbon monoxide poisoning from poorly maintained gas appliances such as cookers, heaters, gas fires and solid fuel burners. London Fire Brigade’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Hearn said, “While many of the heating-related fires we see involve older people struggling to stay warm in winter, anyone can place an electric heater too close to clothing, blankets or curtains or leave a tea light to burn through its holder. Our firefighters have attended fires caused by clothes drying over heaters and portable heaters falling over and setting light to furniture, carpets or curtains. It’s not just home workers that are at risk – parents, carers, students and anyone who spends a lot of time in the house could be tempted to try cheaper, dangerous alternatives to keep warm.”

Firefighters’ tips for using heaters safely

  • Make sure heaters are well maintained and in good working order.
  • Never install, repair or service appliances yourself. Make sure anyone who does is registered with the Gas Safe Register (for gas appliances), the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS) (for solid fuel appliances), or the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC).
  • Don't take risks with old heaters – if it's electrical and getting older, get it tested by a qualified electrician or buy a new one.
  • Where appropriate, secure heaters against a wall to stop them falling over, or fit wall-mounted heaters.
  • Keep heaters well away from clothes, curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
  • Always sit at least one metre away from a heater as it could set light to your clothes or chair.
  • Before attempting to move your heater, turn it off and allow it to cool first.
  • Make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm in addition to smoke alarms in all rooms of risk
  • You can book a free Home Fire Safety Visit at www.london-fire.gov.uk/safety/the-home/home-fire-safety-visits/

Assurity Consulting are leading experts in workplace health, safety and environmental compliance. Our team of fire safety experts have worked with many organisations to keep their employees safe. For more information about our services, and how we can help you, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us