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ISSUE No. 83 Winter 2007

FIRE FEAR Members express concern at AGM

Anxiety about the number of risk assessments legally required to be carried out at blocks of flats – such as asbestos and fire safety – was a major concern raised by members at the AGM in September. Members present also came up with some good ideas as to how to increase the membership of the FPRA. Following the business matters of the

AGM, an address by Chief Executive John Peartree (see page 2) and a discussion led by Frances Kneller of Digital UK (see page 3), there was a question-and-answer session with the FPRA committee. Among the 30 or so residents’ associations present, the responsibility for carrying out health and safety risk assessments was an obvious concern, and particularly fire safety. The size of the block was relevant. In a small block, the “responsible people” could carry out the assessment themselves, or perhaps arrange a “swap” with another RMC – as outsiders can spot things residents don’t. A large London block of 100 or more flats might need a professional assessment. “Take any free advice you can get” the committee recommended – and this was often available from the local fire officer. The problem with professional advice was that you might be legally vulnerable if you did not carry it out to the letter, and professionals tended to go for a “Rolls Royce” approach to cover their backs!

Members are directed to – its legal responsibilities section also covers asbestos. See also the fire safety item on page 5 of this newsletter. FPRA committee members emphasized that it was also a matter of common sense. They stressed the need for smoke alarms in all flats. Management mailings to residents should remind them to check the batteries regularly. Similarly, residents’ management committees were encouraged to formulate an action plan in case of fire, and for this

plan to be written down. Notices informing residents what to do if a fire broke out and detailing emergency exits should be posted on the inside of every front door in the block – even though not a statutory requirement. See fire safety item on page 5. Also at the AGM members suggested that the best way to promote membership of the FPRA was to distribute leaflets at their local libraries, doctors’ surgeries etc, and at other blocks of flats. This suggestion was taken up enthusiastically by the committee. Chief Executive John Peartree commented: “The help of members is realistically the way forward.”

FPRA SURVEY RESULTS INSERT Enclosed with this issue of the Newsletter is an insert produced by the News on the Block magazine. It reproduces an extract from their most recent issue. As explained in the last FPRA Newsletter, where we published the results and our conclusions on our recent members’ survey, News on the Block were very helpful and co-operative in processing the data and we felt it only right to allow them to publish the results in their magazine. They in turn have kindly produced the enclosed insert.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Don’t delay digital

Talking to the Government Landmark court case Fire safety

Ask the FPRA

Understanding your lease Legal jottings

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