As a key part of their highly valued charitable function; social landlords are committed to providing for their elderly and disabled tenants, maintaining independence and quality of life for as long as possible. Mobility scooters are well-established as a component to this provision but there are significant considerations for their safe storage.
Emerging guidance from Chief Fire Officers Association confirms that mobility scooters represent a significant fire risk and landlords must make provision for safe storage or disallow them on their schemes. This is presenting serious challenges both in terms of cost and availability of suitable locations with the number of scooters on the increase – at least 300,000 in use across the UK, increasing by 5% per year at the last survey!
Additional capital requirements present a significant issue for a sector that is already under a great deal of pressure. The provision of safe, secure charging points for everyone who needs them, whether inside or out of residential buildings, is a costly exercise. It is the landlords in the first instance that have to pick up the bill for this and ultimately they either eat into their capital funds or pass this on to all their tenants in the form of service charges.
Furthermore, according to this guidance, many schemes will be deemed to have insufficient capacity for the number of scooters required. This can lead to situations where users are refused permission to acquire a scooter or having to be relocated to more suitable accommodation at great disruption and expense.
By our calculations, no more than 20% of the scooters stored in a sheltered scheme are in use at once, even at peak times.
This provides the basis for our comprehensive scooter-sharing initiative, drastically reducing the investment required by landlords at the same time as opening up safe mobility to a wider range of users.
With metroGO! scooter-sharing, the scooters are owned by the landlord, with unrestricted mobility available to all tenants, booked and paid for using proven car sharing technology.
metroGO! scooters are supplied on a fully-maintained contract with compliant charging and storage facilities. This ensures that landlords can maintain tenant safety both at home and on the move with metroGO! scooters real-time GPS tracking.
• We work with landlords to analyse current and projected mobility scooter requirements at each scheme, then having obtained the necessary consents supply the minimum number of scooters required for all users in a safe, secure charging station.
• metroGO! scooters and charging station are rented by the landlord for a minimum period of 3 years and will usually be located externally to the building. Additional units can be added at any time as demand increases or indeed relocated to another scheme if the requirements were to decrease.
• Having registered, users are issued with a coded fob and can either pre-book scooters online or simply turn up and use a scooter that has a green light indicating that it is available for a three hour period. metroGO! Scooters are GPS tracked for the safety of the users with the Landlord receiving real-time reports on scooter usage.
• There are no up-front costs for the landlord and they are able to charge users a flat weekly rate, with or without an additional charge for each hour of use, through their normal service-charging mechanism.
• metroGO! scooters are premium-specification Class 3 units with full suspension, tiller steering and powerful motors to suit users of all sizes and abilities, with a top speed of 8mph and the support of a national maintenance and replacement contract.
If you have responsibility for the safety of residents where mobility scooters are being stored you will probably already be aware of the guidance that was recently issued for consultation by the Chief Fire Officers Association.
Whilst still in draft form, there is now clear evidence to show that mobility scooters present a significant fire risk with 36 recorded fires involving mobility scooters during the period of the study, many of which have involved fires spreading into the buildings through doors and windows, causing death and injuries
The guidance recommends that landlords adopt a sequential approach, with consideration being given to firstly to whether safe storage can be achieved within the domestic dwelling and secondly whether reasonable adjustments could be made to the building to offer safe storage within a protected compartment.
Mobility scooters must never be stored on escape routes and any storage area within a building must be of at least 30 minutes’ fire resisting construction with adequate fire detection, sprinklers and ventilation. Also, whilst removing the battery from the mobility scooter will remove the source of ignition, charging must not be permitted within a domestic dwelling or on the means of escape and should be avoided at night with all equipment being PAT tested.
Thirdly, external storage solutions should be considered and these should be fully risk assessed with consideration given to vulnerability to arson, accessibility of the proposed location, fire spread and requirements for maintenance. Lastly, if there are no suitable external locations either then permission to store mobility scooters must be refused.