Government must back Sadiq on fire safety inspectors – Dismore
The Government should agree to a request by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to fund 27 new fire safety inspectors, according to Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore. In a meeting of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), Mr Dismore asked Dani Cotton, the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade (LFB), about the recent fire in Watling Street, Burnt Oak, which happened in a backstreet garage.
Mr Dismore’s question was:
‘There are many ‘backstreet’ garages and car repairers across the capital, often with gas cylinders that present particular hazards, especially when there is a fire as occurred recently in Watling Avenue, Burnt Oak, in a garage that was unknown to LFB. What can be done to make sure the Brigade is made aware of these premises and the risks they pose, and to ensure appropriate advice is given to business owners re fire protection, especially involving the use and storage of cylinders?’
To which Ms Cotton replied:
‘Firefighters carry out visits to premises within their station area to familiarise themselves with any risks. These may be as part of their statutory 7(2)d visits or by way of a visual audit. The outcomes of these visits/audits are recorded on the operational risk database where significant risk has been identified, including the presence of gas cylinders.
‘Our fire safety teams also undertake active risk targeting to identify buildings that may be ‘unregulated’ which can, for example, include businesses in railway arches and ‘pop up’ churches. Where appropriate, enforcement action under fire safety legislation will be taken to ensure that the premises are safe. If they identify risks (such as the use of cylinders) they will also notify the local fire station of these risks for them to record and be aware of in the event of future incidents. Where cylinders are being used our officers will, where necessary, provide robust advice on the use and safe storage of them.
‘Officers maintain liaison arrangements with local agencies including the local authority, transport authorities and business groups to try and ensure that we are notified of premises that pose a fire safety risk. Unfortunately, despite these arrangements, there will be some ‘backstreet’ operators that do not come to our attention.’
Mr Dismore said:
‘Sadiq has asked the Home Secretary Amber Rudd to fund 27 more fire safety inspectors, but she said ‘no’. When we asked the Conservatives on LFEPA to back the Mayor and fight for the best interest of Londoners and their safety, they said ‘no’. The Conservatives may praise the Fire Brigade, but they don’t value them. Their reluctance to fund fire services after Grenfell and the police services after London Bridge make their words tragically hollow.
‘I went to Watling Avenue the day after the fire, and met people there. Fires ruin, and occasionally end lives; survivors are often left deeply affected. The best way of stopping the harm from fires is to stop them from happening in the first place.
Ms Cotton’s previous recommendation to Mayor Sadiq Khan to reverse the previous Mayor’s cut of 27 fire safety inspectors would go a long way to checking everywhere that ought to be checked. It saves lives, property and money in the long term. Really it’s a no brainer.’
- Andrew Dismore is the Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden
- Mr Dismore’s written question and answer can be found here.