Fire Safety for Renters

Prevention 

Fires can happen any time of the year, but Texas droughts and hot summers give apartments a higher risk of fires. For more information on fire safety and inspections you can find a guide here. Between inspections there are several things properties can do to encourage a lower risk of fires and potential loss of property at the community:

  • Pay close attention to building vulnerabilities when accessing the building. Due to the proximity of buildings, apartments are at a high risk for fires. While looking at vulnerabilities of the building, staff should also look at other risks around the property. Areas with an abundance of trash, dead grass and branches are a hazard and should be maintained often and efficiently.
  • Routinely check fire extinguishers and smoke alarms.  The duty for checking these devices (when placed inside the unit) is placed on the resident in the TAA lease contract, so you may wish to spend extra time educating residents on that responsibility. 
  • Electrical and gas control areas should be cleared and easily accessible.
  • Ensure that residents and staff are keeping stairwells and hallways clear.
  • Consider giving staff a fire safety training that includes how to properly use a fire extinguisher.
  • INSPECT FIRE EXTINGUISHERS ANNUALLY

During a Fire
During a fire tensions are high, but with a properly trained staff residents can be assured that a situation is under control. This is a time when resident emergency volunteers would be a valuable asset. Keep this in mind when creating the structure of the property's emergency protocol. During droughts residents should once again be encouraged to obtain renter's insurance.

  • Staff or emergency volunteers should ensure their their elderly or disabled neighbors can safely evacuate, if the situation allows it.
  • Staff should clear all evacuation routes and direct residents to a safe area.
  • The emergency coordinator should immediately be contacted after emergency responders have been notified.
  • A resident roster should be kept available.
  • If fire displaces residents, contact American Red Cross, Salvation Army or other local non-profit who may be able to assist them.

Inspections
The Houston Fire Department has initiated a long-term program to inspect every apartment property in the city of Houston for compliance with a list of fire code requirements. There is no fee for the inspection, but coming into compliance may be expensive for some properties, and fines may be issued for violations.
Make your property safer and ready for inspection by reviewing this checklist guide provided by the Houston Fire Department. 
https://www.houstontx.gov/fire/business/Apt%20Mgr%20Guide%202014-HFD.pdf