More than 50 public buildings fail to meet fire safety rules
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Fire safety fears have been raised after 52 public buildings inspected in Suffolk last year failed to meet legal requirements - despite a fall in visits carried out.
The figures from the Home Office showed that around one in nine of the buildings inspected by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service in the year to March - including 11 blocks of flats and seven licensed premises - didn’t comply with current fire safety rules.
It's not clear at this stage which buildings were found to be "unsatisfactory".
Fire services conduct audits on most public buildings and the shared areas of residential properties such as flats to make sure they meet safety regulations.
When inspections are unsatisfactory, auditors may issue an informal notification – for example to agree an action plan – or formal ones such as enforcement notices, warning that a building breaches the law. In the most serious cases, inspectors may issue a prohibition notice to restrict or ban access to a building or they may prosecute those responsible for the property’s safety.
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In the year to March, the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service issued six formal notifications, including one enforcement notice, four prohibition notices and one prosecution.
With the number of inspections plummeting nationally due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fire Brigades Union warned catching up will be made difficult by a drop in the number of inspectors. In response to the pandemic, a number of audits were also carried out remotely, though a figure has not been provided by the Home Office.
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In Suffolk the number of audits dropped by 320 to 462 in the period 2020-2021.
Matt Wrack, the FBU's general secretary, said: "It is understandable that audit figures have dipped during the pandemic, given the reduction in non-emergency contact with the public.
"Any shortfall in inspections needs to be made up, however. This may be difficult, though, with steep falls in the number of fire inspectors in recent years.
“This fall in inspectors is also concerning due to the building safety issues that have come to light since Grenfell and the increased number of buildings fire inspectors are responsible for."