27 Jul 1 in 4 unsafe London buildings have non-cladding related fire safety faults
New figures show one in four buildings (28%) in London that have had ‘stay put’ advice suspended have been flagged up by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) for fire safety defects other than unsafe cladding.
These new figures were obtained by Labour’s London Assembly Fire and Resilience. Their spokesperson, Anne Clarke AM, revealed that as of June, 305 out of the 1099 buildings in London placed under a simultaneous evacuation policy were categorised as having ‘other fire safety issues’.
Additionally, Ms Clarke said that this data is a reminder of the “sheer scale of the building safety crisis”. She has called upon the Government to ensure “financial protections are in place for people living in unsafe buildings of all sizes”.
Whilst cladding became one of the main issues known within buildings, there are many others that can put a residential building at risk of fire and put many lives in danger as a result. Cladding has been highly publicised after the fatal 2017 Grenfell fire.
Many buildings under a simultaneous evacuation policy will require a waking watch, which involves a trained fire safety officer continually patrolling the internal communal areas and the external perimeter of a premises. The average cost of this waking watch in London is £15,641 per building, the equivalent to £256 per dwelling according to official data.
The latest government funding announcement of £62 million has been allocated to pay for fire alarms in buildings of all heights across the country that don’t have a waking watch in place. However, Ms Clarke is continuing to raise concerns that this still won’t be enough to cover the full scale of the demand in London.
The former Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), Michael Gove, announced that developers, followed by building owners and landlords would be first in line to pay for non-cladding historical safety defects, rather than leaseholders. However, these protections only apply to buildings over 11 metres or five storeys high.
As of June, 260 buildings with a simultaneous evacuation policy in place due to cladding and other fire safety issues, were classed as under 18 metres in height. Ms Clarke warned that some of these buildings will be under 11 metres in height and occupiers and leaseholders would not meet the eligibility for Government financial support.
In the Mayor’s 2021 Spending Review submission to the Treasury, a £3 million increase in baseline funding was requested to support the LFB’s ability to maintain its current number of inspecting officers. This was needed alongside the ongoing maintenance of the Building Design and Consultation Hub (BDCH) and Fire Safety Centre of Excellence (CLE).