Housing

London Fire Brigade reports increase in deaths and injuries from fires in ‘beds in sheds’ accommodation

The destruction from a fire in unsuitable accommodation used for housing. Image: London Fire Brigade

The destruction from a fire in unsuitable accommodation used for housing. Image: London Fire Brigade

The London housing crisis has led to an increase in deaths and injuries from fires in ‘beds in sheds’ accommodation.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Wayne Brown has warned of the potential fire traps in using outside buildings not properly constructed for human habitation.

He appeared in  a BBC television programme ‘Rooms, Rogues & Renters: Inside London’s rental market.’

'Rooms Rogues and Renters' BBC television investigative programme. Image: BBC. Click to go through to BBC iPlayer

‘Rooms Rogues and Renters’ BBC television investigative programme. Image: BBC. Click to go through to BBC iPlayer

DAC Brown outlined the fatal consequences of 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.

432 fires, 83 injuries & 15 deaths over the past 5 years

Escalating injuries and deaths from beds in sheds style accommodation. Image: LFB

Escalating injuries and deaths from beds in sheds style accommodation. Image: LFB

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.

This has resulted in 14 fire deaths and 83 serious injuries.

Over the same period, the London Fire Brigade has taken formal enforcement action against landlords under fire safety law around 200 times.

These are in circumstances where its fire safety officers have found people living in unsafe and unsuitable accommodation, including beds in sheds.

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.

He added:

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.

The London Fire Brigade says that the kind of unsuitable accommodation they are investigating can often include structures such as sheds, outbuildings, derelict buildings and temporary structures.

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