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EAST DEVON: Council to ‘get tough’ on fire hazards

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Council flat tenants in East Devon have been promised better protection in the event of a fire, after East Devon District Council pledged to “get tough” on people who block escape routes or start fires in public spaces. The council has planned a major programme of improvements to many of its 200 apartment buildings across the district, including emergency lighting, safety doors and stricter enforcement of fire regulations. Mobility scooters will be banned in lifts and stairwells and the council will provide additional storage space for pushchairs and recycling materials to make sure there is no need for these items to be kept in the way of fire exits. Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Homes and Communities, said: “During the past several months we have been talking to tenants and explaining the importance of ensuring that people have the best possible chance of escaping from a blaze in a block of flats. “We have also briefed many of our tenants and have delivered letters to a number of flats explaining what we are doing and why.” The clamp down follows a series of Fire Risk Assessments carried out by the council after advice from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. A high number of fatal blazes in flats and apartment blocks across the country have triggered the Fire Service to look at ways to provide extra protection. And in the South West, the service has tightened its enforcement of regulations and is now insisting that councils and other landlords review their emergency procedures and safety measures. Councillor Elson added: “Not only does the council want to be a responsible landlord and meet its moral duty of care to tenants but we would be open to prosecution if we did not comply with Fire Service instructions. “There can be no compromise when people’s lives are at stake.”

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