12% of apartment blocks under serious fire hazard threat

A large-scale fire hazards inspection on 500 blocks in London and the South East of England reveals an alarming 12 per cent are under serious fire hazards threat.

According to the GOL group’s inspection, 72 per cent of the sites contain minor fire hazards in communal and stair case areas.

12 per cent are overwhelmed with residents personal items including plant pots, bikes, boxes, electrical waste, push chairs etc blocking fire exits and external access to the building, which not only prevents residents escaping the building in case of fire but also delays the fire-fighter’s access to fight the fire. The inspection also reveals at least 56 per cent of electric cupboards are used as storage to dump rubbish, this implies serious fire risks for residents.

The inspection was carried out by the GOL Group, the leading provider of cleaning, maintenance and facilities management services to residential blocks of flats, from April 2009 to July 2009. All potential fire hazards have been reported to the relevant building’s authorities to take the appropriate measures and action. A copy of this has also been sent to all London councils, Housing associations and Housing management bodies in London and the South East for attention.

On Friday 3rd July 2009, six people including a three-week-old baby died in a massive fire at the 12-storey Lakanal House in Camberwell, stressing the urgent need to review fire safety for blocks of flats. The Government has advised property managers to carry out frequent fire risk assessments according to the HM Government ‘Fire safety risk assessment guide’ for sleeping accommodation. The London Fire Brigade also provides useful guidance and advice on fire prevention and community safety.

Peter Gilgallon, Operations manager at the GOL Group said: ‘According to our inspection, a majority of residents said the reason they left their belongings in the communal area is because they do not have enough space internally.  Having allocated extra storage space is a worthwhile possibility to consider in designing future blocks. However, this might prove to be a big challenge for property managers of existing buildings. Cleaning contractors’ employees should be well trained in health and safety to monitor and provide feedback on fire hazards, helping to identify the problems before they turn into risks’.

To find out how GOL can help you tackle the problems please call them on 0845 604 1288.