More than one in ten public buildings failed fire safety checks, figures reveal

Firefighters have tackled a blaze in a Martham home. Picture: Archant

Firefighters have tackled a blaze in a Martham home. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

More than one in ten public buildings in Norfolk failed to meet safety standards in checks carried out by the fire service last year, figures have revealed.

Incident commander Greg Preston, at a fire in Great Yarmouth. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Incident commander Greg Preston, at a fire in Great Yarmouth. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Almost 90 buildings - including schools, care homes and a hospital - failed to comply with fire safety regulations during audits carried out by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) during 2018-19.

But a senior member of the fire service said failings were a "broad spectrum", and the issues were "a long way off Grenfell".

Statistics on fire service audits collected by the Home Office found firefighters in the county carried out 668 audits in 2018-19, of which 13pc, or 89 buildings were deemed unsatisfactory.

The buildings which failed to comply with safety standards were: a hospital; 14 care homes; 11 schools; six blocks of flats; six hostels; 20 hotels; seven other sleeping premises; a further education building; 10 licensed premises; five shops; four factories or warehouses; two offices; one other public premises; and one other public building.

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But when asked by this newspaper for details of the premises which had failed to comply, Norfolk County Council said it was not in a position to name the buildings.

Inspectors issued 86 written warnings, and 14 formal notices, including four prohibition notices and two prosecutions.

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And following the audits, which took up three weeks of fire crew's time, five premises were brought back into satisfactory standards.

Not all premises were inspected in 2018-19, but all non-domestic properties undergo auditing.

Fire services choose how many audits to do and in England, crews carried out 49,300 audits in 2018-19 - 3pc of all known premises, with a third deemed unsatisfactory.

The number of audits in the UK has fallen by 42pc since 2010-11, but a Home Office spokesperson said it was for individual authorities to decide what inspections are necessary.

They added: "Fire and rescue services have the resources they need to do their important work and overall will receive around £2.3 billion in 2019-20."

Greg Preston, assistant chief fire officer at NFRS, said: "These figures reflect what we regard as falling short of compliance [and] there's a very broad spectrum."

"We tour the premises and work very closely with the responsible person to resolve matters we deem to require attention - a fire door or signage might need improving.

"It's about taking a reasonable approach to enforcement."

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