|Rise in 'Beds-In-Sheds' Fire Deaths
Over last five years 13 people have died and 69 been injured
London fire brigade say they've seen a worrying increase in fires in so called beds-in-sheds.
New statistics show that over the last five years there have been 438 fires in London involving buildings that should not have been occupied as a place to live, resulting in 13 fire deaths and 69 serious injuries.
Over the same period, the Brigade has taken formal enforcement action against landlords under fire safety law around 200 times, where its fire safety officers have found people living in unsafe and unsuitable accommodation, including beds in sheds.
The lack of built-in fire safety precautions such as fire safety doors and smoke alarms and the fact that the people living in them rely on far riskier ways of cooking, heating and lighting make them potential fire traps.
To try and combat the problem, the Brigade has launched the UK’s first ‘unsuitable housing’ toolkit, aimed at helping those working in communities across London, including firefighters, council workers, homeless charities and the police, to identify unsuitable accommodation, and those living in it, who are often the most vulnerable people in society.
The Brigade’s Third Officer, Dave Brown, said:
“It’s a tragedy that in this day and age we’ve got people living in factories, sheds, and outbuildings in scenes reminiscent of a Charles Dickens novel.
“When people are forced to live in these sorts of buildings, they are at a far greater risk of having a fire as the buildings often don’t contain vital safety features like fire doors and alarms, which can be the difference between life and death.
“Starting with our own staff, we are working to educate those who come into contact with unsuitable accommodation and those who live in it to try and prevent further beds in sheds fire tragedies.”
Last summer in Uxbridge a man died after a fire in an outbuilding which had been converted into illegal accommodation. It’s thought he’d been living at the back of a row of shops, for around six years. There were no smoke alarms and due to a broken lock, the man was unable to escape from the fire.
Ealing Council has set up a special team to investigate suspected illegal outhouses.
19th June 2014