Government plans to fund new fire inspectors to inspect and enforce fire safety in over two million homes is a “gross underestimate” and inspector numbers should be doubled, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said.
The government’s Fire Safety Bill estimates £700,000 a year would be needed to fund the safety inspections but the FBU said this will only cover 12 full time fire inspectors. The maximum estimated spend is £2.1m which would pay for 35 inspectors, averaging at less than one per brigade in England.
There are currently 951 fire safety officers in England who are qualified to carry out inspections.
It is not yet known how many flats will be covered by the legislation, but Home Office has estimated it would be between 1,189,200 and 2,198,600.
The FBU is also calling for a permanent statutory advisory body for the fire and rescue service to be established to allow firefighters and inspectors to influence governmental decision-making.
The union was not consulted to provide evidence for the Fire Safety Bill, which is currently in its committee stage.
The bill will give fire services the responsibility to inspect and enforce fire safety in the common parts of multi-occupancy buildings, building structures, external walls, stairs, and doors between residences in England.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Three years after Grenfell, Britain’s fire safety regime remains a national disgrace and politicians are responsible. This legislation is long overdue but insufficient. The bill in its current form is a gross underestimate of the realities of the crisis.
“Without funding a significant increase in fire inspector numbers, this change in the law will not ramp up enforcement on rogue landlords – ministers need a serious reality check.”
“At best, the government is planning to fund less than one extra fire inspector in each fire service for a massively expanded workload. We should be talking about immediately doubling inspector numbers to make a dent in this crisis.
“With better engagement with tenants and firefighters, the chances of another disaster like Grenfell could be significantly reduced,” he added.
Shekina is a reporter at Mortgage Solutions. She has over two years experience in the B2B publishing market, with previous industries including the pet, funeral, hospitality, retail and jewellery trades.
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