Fire brigade bosses are warning landlords to keep communal areas clear of clutter after a sharp increase in blazes in hallways, stairwells and corridors in blocks.

The London Fire Brigade has reported that there were 514 fires in communal areas in 2013/14, compared with 449 the previous year. This represents a 14% increase.

The fire brigade is warning that clutter such as buggies, bikes and mattresses are often the cause of fires and can also block residents’ fire escape routes. It is calling on landlords to do more to ensure communal areas are kept clear, that they ensure tenants know their escape routes and what to do in the event of a fire.

Steve Turek, assistant commissioner at the London Fire Brigade, said: ‘It is the responsibility of landlords to keep communal areas clear and ensure their property has a suitable fire safety plan.

‘Residents can help by not storing bikes, buggies and other items in communal areas because these can cause fires that can spread quickly.

‘Parking a pushchair or a bike outside your flat might seem like a practical solution but in the event of a fire it becomes a dangerous obstacle that can slow down firefighters trying to reach a fire and residents trying to escape it.’

The appeal is part of the London Fire Brigade’s Know the Plan campaign to increase fire safety awareness.

Personal and combustible items in the common areas should be picked up on your fire risk assessment which has to be completed on your block by law. For free fire safety advice contact us on 0203 478 7347 or using our online contact page.