Nearly 200 public buildings breach fire rules

A fifth of public buildings inspected in Cleveland last year were found in breach of fire safety regulations, figures reveal.

Fire safety checks
Fire safety checks

Home Office data shows 180 buildings inspected by the Cleveland Fire Brigade in the year to March did not comply with fire safety laws – 21% of those inspected.

These included included 37 shops, 23 houses in multiple occupancy and 49 other forms of sleeping accommodation.

When fire service inspections are unsatisfactory, auditors cab issue an informal notification, to agree an action plan; enforcement notices, warning that a building breaches the law; or a prohibition notice to restrict or ban access to a building.

Cleveland Fife Brigade issued 31 formal notifications - including nine enforcement notices and 22 prohibition notices.

With the number of inspections plummeting nationally due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of audits in Cleveland dropped by 710 to 857.

Nationally, 34,400 fire safety audits were carried out in 2020-21 – down 29% on the previous year.

Matt Wrack, the FBU's general secretary, said: "It is understandable that audit figures have dipped during the pandemic, but any shortfall in inspections needs to be made up.

"This may be difficult, though, with steep falls in the number of fire inspectors in recent years and that is a concern due to the building safety issues that have come to light since Grenfell and the increased number of buildings fire inspectors are responsible for."

Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “Stopping fires before they start is the best way to keep the places where we work and live safe, which is our number one priority.”