England

Tower block fire safety risk highlighted

They are home to tens of thousands of people in England but just how safe would high rise tower blocks be if a fire broke out?

A special investigation by BBC Inside Out has uncovered systemic failings in high rise fire safety.

Many tower blocks are more than 50 years old and many have become out-dated, run-down and are now in a state of disrepair.

In 2009, six people lost their lives when fire spread through the 12-storey Lakanal House in Camberwell, London.

That block had been refurbished under a government scheme.

Fire hazard

BBC Inside Out has discovered that the government was so concerned about fire safety in high rise blocks that it wrote to all local authorities requesting fire safety checks on every high rise block.

Our teams visited Green Court in Luton to test fire safety with fire surveyor Arnold Tarling.

There have been 11 fires in the block in the past year, although no-one has been injured and the fires were put out quickly before they could spread.

Mr Tarling was concerned at several features he considered to be fire hazards, and in one case found what he said was a serious breach in fire safety legislation at Green Court.

The block is owned by Luton Borough Council, who told the BBC they "take fire safety very seriously and that a risk assessment was carried out last year - no high risk problems were identified".

But they did confirm that a number of low and medium risk issues were spotted and they have a programme of improvements.

They also say they "couldn't find anything wrong with fire doors and that all cabling conforms to current legislation.

They added that "more than £500,000 has been spent on fire safety and other work in buildings across Luton in the last year".

Watch the full report on BBC Inside Out West Midlands and BBC Inside Out East on 25 October at 1930 BST.

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