Fire safety MATTERS

This is a new monthly column from London Fire Brigade’s Greenwich Borough Fire stations for our local residents. Each month a different firefighter will offer some safety advice that we think would help to keep everyone as safe as possible.


The first columnist we would like to introduce to you is Borough Commander Matt Herrington. 

I’ve served the capital’s fire service for the past 20 years and as Borough Commander of Greenwich for the last two. The Grenfell Tower is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. It was a tragic and unprecedented fire and our thoughts remain with all those affected by it.

I can fully understand why people who live in high rises have questions about their safety but I want to stress that thankfully, fires are rare. However, it’s vitally important to know your fire escape plan and where to turn if you have concerns.

I would urge everyone to read our advice to help you plan and practise what to do in the event of a fire. If you live in a purpose built flat or maisonette your landlord must provide you with fire safety information, including an evacuation plan.

“ Fire safety in purpose built flats and maisonettes is dependent upon good maintenance and housekeeping.

Residents should know the following:

• All flat front doors and doors on corridors and staircases must be ‘self closing’ fire doors.

• Fire doors must  not be held or wedged open as they are designed to stop the spread of fire.

• Things must not be stored in corridors or staircases as this can block escape routes and stop firefighters doing their job.

• Information about what to do in the event of a fire is understood and easily available

• You know who your landlord is and how to contact them.


Our full advice to people who live in a purpose-built flat or maisonette is on London Fire Brigade website but in summary we say:

• If the fire is actually inside your flat or maisonette, leave immediately and call 999.

• If there is a fire or smoke inside your flat or maisonette and your escape route is NOT clear, it may be safer to stay in your flat or maisonette until the fire brigade arrives.

• Find a safe room close the door and use soft materials to block any gaps to stop the smoke. Go to a window, shout “HELP, FIRE” and call 999.


Good advice for every home in London is:

•Fit smoke alarms in every room. Smoke alarms provide a vital early warning and can allow extra time to escape if there is a fire in your home.

• Always make sure you have an escape plan in place and that everyone in your home  knows what to do in an emergency.