London Fire Brigade

Fire inspectors swoop on 'death trap' housing for 150 people

11 November 2011

London Fire Brigade has  swooped to close a number of commercial buildings being used as living accommodation after uncovering some of the worst fire risks safety officers have ever seen.

Fire safety inspectors in Wembley have issued six “prohibition notices” on separate buildings being used as living accommodation on an industrial estate in the Alperton area. So far approximately 150 people have been found living in six premises.

The Brigade was alerted to the problem following a fire in an office block on Mount Pleasant  at the end of October where firefighters rescued six people. A subsequent inspection of the building revealed seventeen rooms with over 50 people living in them. Fire safety officers found virtually no fire safety features inside, such as fire protection between different floors, and extremely limited  means of escape. Inspectors say that a more fire serious fire could easily have ripped through the entire building and residents would have struggled to escape.

Investigations into who owned the property led officers to another  building on nearby Beresford Avenue. When they visited the offices, above a garage, on 9 November, they found similar potentially lethal conditions providing housing for 21 people, including three children.

The Brigade was then alerted to four more properties in the area housing a total of around 80 people.

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Regulation, Steve Turek, said:

“The complete contempt some landlords appear to have for the safety of those families they are taking money from is incredible. These buildings are potential death traps and it’s lucky nobody was killed as a result. Officers visiting these premises have described the breaches of fire safety as some of the worst they have ever seen.

“We immediately issued prohibition notices on all six buildings to stop them being used as living accommodation. Building owners must understand the responsibilities they have under fire safety law. If we find that people are putting  lives at risk by blatantly ignoring them we will have no hesitation in prosecuting .”

London Fire Brigade is continuing to investigate other conversions in the area and is working with Brent Council and other agencies to rehouse those affected.

ENDS