Sudbury fire prompts inspections by council

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Following the devastating fire in Sudbury on September 6, last year fire safety checks are to take place in mixed use buildings.

The first of a series of ‘impact days’ to be held in Babergh and Mid Suffolk will take place in May after two Suffolk councils joined forces with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to implement a new project to check the safety arrangements in mixed-use buildings.

The first of these days will take place in Sudbury on May 3, from midday until 7pm.

This public event is part of the initiative driven by the two councils and is as a direct result of the aftermath of the fire in Market Hill, Sudbury which ripped through the town last year, destroying residential flats and businesses.

As a result, the councils have focused resources on inspecting these types of properties, particularly looking at fire prevention, detection and means of escape.

Jennie Jenkins, Babergh District Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “The fire that destroyed many businesses and homes in Sudbury was absolutely devastating for all involved and we were so very lucky that no one lost their life.

“This awful incident highlighted where lessons could be learned and I am pleased that our councils and the fire service are now taking positive, proactive, steps to try and ensure all of our homes and businesses are safe, compliant with the latest legislation and that the people who live in them know what to do in the event of a fire.

Already in Sudbury 140 mixed use buildings have been inspected.

Private sector housing officers from Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have been working with SFRS to assess and identify buildings that are used for business and residential purposes, particularly flats above shops and restaurants.

Plans for the project begin with identifying the mixed-use buildings and carrying out an initial risk assessment to prioritise inspections.

The aim is to look at fire detection, fire prevention and means of escape from fire and give guidance to occupiers, owners and landlords.

As part of the project, officers will be looking at conditions in privately-rented housing. to make sure that they are compliant with fire and safety legislation and are safe for occupants.

Advice will be given to landlords and they will be given an opportunity to resolve any serious housing hazards that are identified.

Both the private sector housing teams at the councils and SFRS have enforcement powers where owners or landlords are not willing to carry out the necessary work.

Housing officers and fire officers, alongside a ‘fire bus’, will be available in the Market Square to give advice to residents and businesses on any aspect of fire safety or concerns over housing conditions.

Twelve inspections are also planned on the day and those businesses/owners/tenants will receive a letter informing them of this.

These include follow-up visits where problems have previously been identified.

Dates and venues for future impact days will be available on Babergh, Mid Suffolk and SFRS websites over the next few weeks.

Officers from the private sector housing team will also be available for anyone who has concerns about fire safety or housing issues.

For further information contact either SFRS on 01473 260588 or Babergh’s private sector housing on 01473 826639.