3rd August 2023
Student Residential Building Closed Over Fire Safety Concerns
A seven-storey residential building in Colchester has recently been evacuated after concerns over fire safety defects posed a serious risk to life.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) confirmed that they visited on 26th June 2023 and “recorded numerous fire safety issues”. This subsequently led to inspectors issuing a prohibition notice the same day to shut the site entirely and require all residents to move out:
This means the responsible person for the premises had a legal obligation to make sure all residents left the building as the fire and rescue service believed there was a serious risk to life related to fire safety.
Fire Safety Concerns
ECFRS inspectors found a large number of defects at the site, including:-
- Escape routes that had been compromised
- Insufficient fire compartmentation between the walls, floors, and doors
- Unprotected vertical shafts running through all 7 floors of the property
- Live electrical wiring left exposed.
On the evening the prohibition notice was served, residents were asked to leave immediately, with around 125 people being moved into alternative accommodation. They were allowed to briefly return to collect their belongings, but only with the Fire and Rescue Service in attendance to ensure this could be done safely.
Residents were also informed that they would be leaving their accommodation indefinitely until such times that the rectification works could be completed and the prohibition notice complied with.
Executive Officer Area Manager for ECFRS, Jim Palmer said: “Essex County Fire and Rescue Service will only ever serve a prohibition notice when it is absolutely necessary. We never want people to lose their homes, but our responsibility is to keep people safe and protect them from the risk of fire. “In this instance, we are clear that the property did not meet fire regulations. Specifically, we believe if there was a fire in the building, due to the way it’s been built, there is potential for rapid fire spread internally. This would mean residents would not be able to evacuate safely and this would put residents at a higher risk of serious injury or death.”
It is understood that the property developer used an independent inspector for building control sign-off – meaning the fire service was not aware of the building until recently. However, it should still have been subject to the same requirements irrespective.
A spokesman for Colchester City Council said:
“Amleen House was inspected by an independent building inspector, who is a qualified professional with the expertise to assess the safety and compliance of a building and who would have been subject to the CICAIR code of conduct.
Further investigation will be required to address any issues that led to the situation, and we are unable to comment on this further at this time.”
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