Rise in Berkshire fire safety checks – but hundreds fail inspection

BERKSHIRE firefighters carried out more safety checks on buildings last year, despite inspections hitting a record-low across England.

Fire services conduct audits on most public buildings and the shared areas of residential homes such as flats to make sure they are safe.

But with inspections hitting a record low across England last year, the Fire Brigades Union warns the scale of the building safety crisis – exposed by the Grenfell Tower fire – is “beyond all current comprehension”.

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Home Office data shows the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service completed 1,407 fire safety audits on buildings in 2019-20.

This was 270 more than the 1,137 inspections recorded the previous year. It was also a big increase on the 1,229 done in 2010-11, when comparable recorded began.

The national trend was very different, with the number of audits completed falling to a record low of 48,400 last year – 43per cent fewer than in 2010-11.

Buildings tested include care homes, hospitals and high-rises, as well as schools and shops.

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Of the audits undertaken in Berkshire last year, 526 (37per cent) resulted in an “unsatisfactory” rating.

Crews issued 501 informal notifications to premises that had failed an audit, explaining what action needed to be taken.

If informal notifications fail, they can take tougher action and Berkshire crews handed out 23 enforcement notices – formal warnings that a building breaches the law.

Prohibition notices, ordering access to a building to be restricted or for it to be closed altogether, were issued on three occasions.

And there were three convictions for failure to make changes ordered in a formal notice.

Reading Chronicle