A report into a fire at the Assembly Rooms in Derby in March 2014 has concluded that poor design and maintenance of the building made matters worse.
Run by the local authority, the concert hall has yet to reopen after 75 firefighters and 16 fire engines fought the flames which left it badly smoke-damaged, further highlighting the need for proper maintenance of fire protection systems and compartmentation in old buildings.
In a report, BB7, a firm of fire safety consultants, said that holes in internal fire walls could have resulted in ‘significant, unexpected fire spread’.
The company also highlighted issues with a poorly maintained ventilation system and concerns over the installation of flammable polystyrene.
Furthermore, the report continued, it was fortunate that the fire broke out on top of the car park, because other parts of the building would have been more difficult to access.
Paul Robinson, acting chief executive of Derby City Council, said the authority was ‘not entirely happy’ with the context of the report, saying the findings should be put into the context of a 38-year-old building.
The report had been sent to insurers as part of the council’s £5.5m claim, with Mr Robinson saying they are “very near to a negotiated settlement”.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.