FIRE chiefs have highlighted the importance of sprinklers in shared accommodation across Merseyside following a blaze at a high-rise block of student flats.

The fire - at Horizon Heights in Liverpool City Centre last Saturday - involved an electrical heater and started in a flat on the 11th floor of the 20-storey building.

Its intensity caused the sprinkler system to activate, which contained the fire before crews wearing breathing apparatus arrived at the scene to extinguish it fully.

Firefighters from Birkenhead were among those across Merseyside called to the incident.

Around 100 students were evacuated. Thankfully there were no injuries.

The fire service is now backing calls by the National Fire Chiefs Council for an increased use of sprinklers across the board and lowering the threshold for their use in high-rise blocks of flats from 11m (or four floors) as a minimum.

Mark Thomas, group manager at Merseyside Fire Rescue Service, said: "Our crews were able to reach the fire floor and extinguish the fire in very good time.

"We were clearly aided by the sprinkler system which had operated as expected, minimising the risk of a more significant fire developing.

"This highlights the importance of having sprinklers installed in residential buildings both in terms of preventing further fire damage and keeping occupants and firefighters safe.

"It is worth noting that there has never been a fire fatality in sleeping accommodation fitted with sprinklers - that's why we are so passionate about their use being extended across the board.

"People living in rented or shared accommodation are seven times more likely to have a fire, and while fire safety might not be at the top of students' agendas while they're away at university, it should be."

Top tips for staying safe at in high-rise accommodation are:

  • You should only smoke in designated external smoking shelters
  • Make sure cigarettes are extinguished properly and safely
  • If you are living in private accommodation, remember to never smoke in bed
  • Take extra care when smoking inside, especially if you are drunk or on drugs


  • Never leave cooking unattended
  • Take extra care when frying with oil and avoid using chip pans. Remember, never put water on a chip pan or oil fire
  • Don't cook when under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Don't cover microwaves
  • Clean your oven, hob and grill regularly – a build-up of fat or grease can easily ignite and cause a fire
  • Make sure cooking appliances are switched off when you leave the room

Electrical safety

  • If using an extension lead, make sure all of the items plugged in don't exceed the maximum current rating and do not overload sockets
  • Don't place laptops on soft, uneven surfaces like blankets, pillows, duvets or your lap.
  • This can prevent the airflow and can cause it to overheat. Make sure laptops are placed on hard even surfaces
  • Don't leave electrical items like laptops, mobile phones or e-cigs charging overnight or unattended. Always turn electrical devices off when not in use.
  • Check your electrical appliances are in good working order. If the wires are damaged or frayed, do not use them.


  • Candles are not allowed in student halls of residence
  • If you are using candles in private accommodation, keep them away from flammable items like curtains, TV sets, bath tubs, furniture, bedding and books
  • Make sure candles are on a stable surface where they can’t be knocked over
  • Never leave lit candles unattended. Ensure they are completely out before you leave the room or go to bed
  • Consider using LED battery-operated candles instead.

Escape routes

  • Make sure you and your housemates know the quickest way out in the event of a fire
  • Plan a second escape route in case the first one is blocked
  • Keep exits clear from clutter and obstructions
  • Keep door and window keys in a known and accessible place
  • Don’t prop or wedge a fire door open. A closed one could save your life.