Fire Extinguishers in HMOs – Yes or No?

fire extinguishers in hmos

Fire extinguishers in HMOs can be a contreverisal topic. If you’ve researched this then you’ll find various opinions, legislation, standards, council requirements that can often contradict each other.

So how do you decide whether to install fire extinguishers in your HMO?

In this article we look at the UK requirements, the pros and cons and how to decide for your HMO.


Council HMO Standards

Different councils have different policies on fire extinguishers. As a first step, it’s a good idea to call your local HMO Officer to ask what their policy is. Many Councils, following advice from the Fire Service, now advise against installing extinguishers in order to reduce the risk of tenants attempting to tackle fires, rather than evacuate the building. Instead, occupants should get out, call 999, and stay out.

Fire Risk Assessment

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 sets out the legal requirements required for fire safety in the common areas of an HMO. There must be a responsible person for ensuring compliance, normally the Landlord or Letting Agent. The responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment.

Although you can undertake a Fire Risk Assessment yourself, it is highly recommended to use a professionally trained fire risk assessor or fire protection company who has the necessary expertise and experience to identify potential fire hazards and recommend appropriate safety measures. They can also provide advice on the latest fire safety regulations and standards.

The risk assessment must be upated on an annual basis.

In 2008 the goverment published the LACORS guidance on fire safety, although parts of the guidance are now outdated. This guidance does not recommend supplying fire extinguishers unless there are resident staff who are trained in their use, as they can lead to problems if they’re not properly maintained or where they are discharged through malice.

Fire Extinguisher Requirements

Where provided, fire extinguishers should:

  • comply with BS EN 3-7
  • be maintained in accordance with BS 5306-3:2017 (annual service by competent person)
  • BS5306 recommends that fire extinguishers are tested by discharge every five years (water foam and powder) and refilled or replaced, and every ten years (CO2).
  • Under the Fire Order, where extinguishers are provided the responsible person must ensure that training is provided to the tenants and repeated periodically where appropriate

Should I remove Fire Extinguishers from my HMO?

If not required by your Council or Fire Risk Assessment then it probably makes sense to remove any fire extinguishers in order to avoid unecessary training, service and replacement costs. In Manchester at the time of writing (2024), it currently costs around £60 for an annual service of all extinguishers and £45 – £75 to replace a fire extinguisher depending on size and type. As an illustration, removing 3 extinguishers would save around £8/month in service and replacement costs (every 5 years), excluding training.

Fire Extinguishers in HMOs – Conclusion

Fire extinguishers are not a legal requirement in HMOs unless a fire risk assessment deems them necessary. You should also check the requirements of your local council.

If you do decide to install fire extinguishers then make sure they are serviced annually by a competent person in accordance with BS 5306-3 and replaced (or discharge test carried out) every 5 years. Also make sure that regular training is provided to your tenants.

At Confidence Property we work with a Fire Protection Company so that our HMO Landlords can relax, knowing that their HMOs are compliant with the latest fire extinguisher legislation.