Home Local News Concerns over ‘slow’ fire risk checks in Dover council homes

Concerns over ‘slow’ fire risk checks in Dover council homes

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Hundreds of council homes have not been checked for smoke detectors in Kent amid fire safety concerns.

About 1,080 houses owned by Dover District Council in Dover, Deal and Sandwich have yet to be verified with a workable fitted device.

The council needs to get fire alarms checked
The council needs to get fire alarms checked

Data published on April 1 shows that 25% of 4,322 homes owned by the local authority are waiting to be assessed to see if they have a smoke detector.

It comes amid concerns over potential health and safety issues following the closure of East Kent Housing last October, which managed 17,000 homes on behalf of Canterbury, Dover, Thanet and Folkestone and Hythe councils.

On Monday, Dover District Council’s scrutiny committee expressed anxieties over potential risks to the acquired houses.

Deal Cllr Trevor Bond (Con) told the virtual panel of councillors: “The smoke detectors really worry me as we are eight months in.”

He added: “It is a bit slow, sure it went up 8% one month, but we need a lot more than that to get to 100%.”

A technician fits a fire alarm as part of the community fire prevention scheme. Library picture
A technician fits a fire alarm as part of the community fire prevention scheme. Library picture

Dover council senior officer Martin Leggatt, the authority’s head of building control, said staff are seeking to increase the number of tests carried out.

Reasons for the delays include a third national lockdown, from January to March, and, a rise in tenants “refusing” access to contractors for inspection.

Mr Leggatt said: “Now that lockdown is easing we are putting pressure on both the surveyors and contractors to get back on site and deal with that.

“The fact that lockdown is easing gives me that confidence we will hit that trajectory.”

There has also been a sharp drop in the performance of fire alarm testing, reduced from 99% to 73.5% within the thousands of homes.

Fire crews. Stock picture
Fire crews. Stock picture

Dover council says the vast majority of tests have been completed, but East Kent Housing has not provided the certificates by the deadline of March 5.

Calling for a more “efficient” approach, Cllr Bond added: “There should not be a delay when someone has done the fire assessment. It should be automatically put on the file and sent across to us.”

Dover council’s scrutiny chair, Cllr Charlotte Zosseder (Lab), added: “It is important not cover up any deficiencies.”

She added: “The facts and figures are very clear and it will help us build trust.”

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

Deal Dover Sandwich Ciaran Duggan, local democracy reporter



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