One in 10 Norfolk building's inspected breached fire regulations

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

More than 10pc of Norfolk's public buildings inspected last year were in breach of fire safety regulations, home office figures reveal.

One in nine of the buildings inspected by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) in the year to March did not comply with fire safety laws.

In total, NFRS carried out 370 audits, with 40 identified as unsatisfactory - 11pc of those inspected - including 10 hotels, seven shops and six licensed premises.

Greg Preston, area manager for protection and prevention at NFRS, said: "It's not something to be alarmed about.

"We have gone round on our audit and we've identified areas where we want to see improvements.

"It's not really outside of what we would expect - it's a very sliding scale of broken rules."

Greg Preston head of prevention and protection at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Norfolk

Greg Preston head of community safety at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. - Credit: Archant

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Mr Preston added many of the enforcement notices would be things like fire alarms needing new batteries or damaged fire doors.

"The key message for us is to remind people to have a suitable fire risk assessment, keep the occupants safe from fire and follow the advice on our website," he said.

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NFRS has not had to prosecute anyone in the last year for breaches, with Mr Preston saying unless there were serious breaches it wanted to work with businesses to ensure they were safe.

"Prosecutions are not common but sometimes they are necessary," he said.

"We have issued some prohibition notices [in the past year] where we have decided that the risk at that time was too great, stopping access until we deem it safe."

In the year to March, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service issued seven formal notifications, including five enforcement notices and two prohibition notices.

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.

Across England, 34,400 fire safety audits were carried out in 2020-21 – 29pc fewer than the previous year. In Norfolk, the number of audits dropped by 445 to 370 in the period.

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