The boss of the London Fire Brigade has revealed that new developments are being proposed in London ‘every day’ that put Londoners’ lives at risk. The chief of the London Fire Brigade who led the brigade’s response during the Grenfell Tower fire has expressed his fears over the numbers of buildings going up in the capital which are a major fire risk for residents.
Commissioner Andy Roe told City Hall ‘s fire and resilience committee: “Am I comfortable about how buildings are built in London and how they’re maintained? No. Developers need to get their own house in order…Grenfell was partly about the failure to maintain and renovate a building to the old standard, let alone the new standard.
“We get [developments] across our desk every day that we simply can’t allow to progress…I can’t give you a [number], because the scale of it is too considerable,” he said. And the fire boss urged Londoners living in the more than 1,100 buildings over 11 storeys that have serious fire safety flaws and dangerous cladding to get the information they need: “Your building owner has a responsibility to tell you and have a plan for evacuation. Seek that advice if you’re not sure, from your landlord.”
READ MORE:Record number of super-tall buildings are being built in London, despite fears for skyline and suffering residents
(Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)
He told residents to report things that “don’t look right” – including fire doors being wedged over, or cladding problems not being dealt with: “We’ll give advice and come and have a look if necessary.” The advice to ‘stay put’ has now been abandoned for those who live in dangerously clad buildings. Those in non-cladded buildings are still told to stay inside “unless you can see something deteriorating.”
Andy Roe also hit out at delays in the courts which mean that irresponsible building owners are not being held to account over serious fire failings: “During Covid there was a point when they were not prosecuting any fire safety cases.” The force even considered lobbying the Ministry of Justice over the huge backlog.
The commissioner’s warnings come after a record number of planning permissions were granted for tall buildings in the capital last year, increasing by a quarter compared to 2020. More than 109 tall building schemes are now actively under construction across the capital, while 341 tall buildings currently have planning permission to go ahead and are awaiting construction. The total number of tall buildings in the pipeline in London as of April was at nearly 600.
The London Assembly session reflected on the five year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire that saw 72 people killed in a building wrapped in flammable cladding. Speaking to MyLondon ahead of the anniversary, Sadiq Khan said: “We know from the London Fire Brigade that there are more than 1,000 buildings in London that are unsafe…We’re still in a situation where the building owners, developers and managers are taking people from pillar to post about who’s responsible.”
At a City Hall meeting in February, LFB boss Andy Roe said that to inspect just 10 or 20 per cent of London’s approximately 95,000 mid-rise buildings for fire safety defects the LFB must recruit hundreds more fire safety inspectors. He also said that there is an £8 million budget gap expected for the brigade next year. According to analysis from the Fire Brigades Union, London has lost over 1,100 firefighters since 2010 due to budget cuts.
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Josiah joined MyLondon as the outlet’s first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, the London Assembly, the Met police, Transport for London, and wider London politics.
He moved to South London from Brussels in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society, and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. Originally from Cornwall, he is now also a proud Londoner. Josiah has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Times Radio, LBC and other outlets to discuss current affairs and general political chaos.
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