London Fire Brigade

Brigade warns about beds in sheds on BBC One

27 March 2015

We’ll be explaining the dangers of fires in London’s so-called beds in sheds for a BBC One show tonight.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Wayne Brown will stress that the lack of built-in fire safety precautions such as fire safety doors and smoke alarms and the fact that the people living in them rely on far riskier ways of cooking, heating and lighting make them potential fire traps.

New Brigade statistics show that over the last five years* there have been 432 fires in London involving buildings that should not have been occupied as a place to live, resulting in 14 fire deaths and 83 serious injuries.

Over the same period, the Brigade has taken formal enforcement action against landlords under fire safety law around 200 times, where its fire safety officers have found people living in unsafe and unsuitable accommodation, including beds in sheds.

The programme is called ‘Rooms, Rogues & Renters: Inside London’s rental market’ and will be shown on BBC One London at 7.30pm tonight and available on iPlayer.

The Brigade’s Third Officer, Dave Brown, said:

“It’s a tragedy that in this day and age we’ve got people living in factories, sheds, and outbuildings in scenes reminiscent of a Charles Dickens novel.

“When people are forced to live in these sorts of buildings, they are at a far greater risk of having a fire as the buildings often don’t contain vital safety features like fire doors and alarms, which can be the difference between life and death.

“Starting with our own staff, we are working to educate those who come into contact with unsuitable accommodation and those who live in it to try and prevent further beds in sheds fire tragedies.”

Unsuitable accommodation can often include buildings like; sheds, outbuildings, derelict buildings and temporary structures.

Notes to editors

Figures up until Friday, 27 March