Fire safety probe into Sidmouth council flats

BLOCKS of council flats in Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary areas will each be the subject of a fire risk probe.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) chiefs say the move will safeguard the authority against prosecution or legal action in the future – and also protect residents.

The council has a statutory duty to carry out fire risk assessments on the 222 ‘blocks’ it owns in the region.

Housing Review Board members will next week decide whether to approve the project and set aside an annual budget of �50,000 to carry out additional fire safety works. The assessment process will take two years to complete, and a pair of trained officers will undertake the work.

There are around 25 EDDC properties in Sidmouth, excluding Sidford and Sidbury, and around 10 in Ottery.

“This is not something new,” says a report to board members. “Although all of our blocks of flats should, at the time of construction, have had appropriate fire precaution measures in place – no formal assessments have been recently undertaken.

“The council’s health and safety officer recommended that this exercise is undertaken to safeguard the council against any future risks of prosecution or legal challenge in the event of a fire in a block of flats.

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“It also demonstrates out commitment to tenant safety.”

EDDC’s 222 blocks of flats include sheltered schemes, converted semi-detached houses, to purpose built buildings.

Fire risk assessments will identify aspects such as fire hazards, means of escape and deficiencies to be rectified.