Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Our Mission: Safer Stronger Communities - Safe Effective Firefighters.

Shared Accommodation

Common fire safety standards for all HMOs

There are certain fire safety features that should be common to all HMOs. These include:

  • no unsafe electrical wiring;
  • a basic fire warning system;
  • an escape route, free from obstructions or materials that burn easily;
  • portable ladders or similar devices used as a means of escape;
  • good maintenance and repair of all means of escape and fire precautions;
  • locks on exit doors which can be opened easily without a key;
  • fire extinguishers and fire blankets in shared kitchens; and
  • fire resistant furniture and furnishings.

If the HMO is three storeys or more, or is larger with a more complex layout, then additional fire safety measures are required:

  • more complex requirements for escape routes and fire warning systems;
  • short travel distances to means of escape;
  • escape lighting depending on the exact layout and complexity of the building;
  • fire notices, where the escape route is not the normal route of travel, or where there might be any doubt about the location of the exit;
  • safe surface finishes to walls and ceilings;
  • a fire-resistant floor between any basement and ground floor; and
  • any external fire escape must be protected from potential fire and smoke.

Students in shared accommodation

he following advice is based on guidance for students issued by the National Union of Students (NUS). However, it is also relevant to anyone else living in shared accommodation.

In 1999, 225,000 students under the age of 25 entered UK higher education institutions. Many of these young people are away from home for the first time.

Students can choose from a range of accommodation. Those living in a hall of residence or other college-provided accommodation could reasonably expect to be living in a safe environment because of existing controls on these types of occupancy. Only the actions of the residents might compromise safety. The most vulnerable students are those living in rented, shared accommodation. The NUS reveals that this is 58% of students altogether, including 130,500 new students in 1999/2000. The number of new students rises each year.

Students living in provided accommodation this year will almost certainly be living in some form of shared accommodation next year.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, in conjunction with Liverpool Student Homes, has recently launched a Fire Safety rating checklist initiative in an attempt to ensure that the housing provided to the students of Liverpool is of an acceptable standard in relation to fire safety.

Liverpool Student Homes (LSH) is an accommodation service which deals specifically with the private sector in student housing. Operating since March 1992 their aim is to unify the Universities' accommodation offices, to increase the choice and service to students and to attempt to improve the quality of accommodation available. The bureau holds information on around 3500 landlords and ladies and 10,000 students use the service every year.

For more information on the services provided by LSH access their website at:

For more information on the Fire Safety rating checklist please click on the link below:

Fire Safety Rating for Student Accommodation

Fire Safety Rating for Student Accommodation

Published in association with Liverpool Student Homes.

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Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has a high number of students living in shared accommodation within the Merseyside area and there are opportunities to work with the National Union of Students and college and university accommodation staff to provide input on fire safety.

For further information contact:
Steve Gille
Speke & Garston. Community Fire Safety
Cartwrights Farm Road.

Tel: 0151 486 3982

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