Officers from London Fire Brigade have swooped to close a number of commercial buildings being used as living accommodation, after uncovering some of the worst fire safety risks they have ever seen.
Fire safety inspectors issued prohibition notices on six separate buildings being used as living accommodation for around 150 people on an industrial estate in Alperton.
The fire service was alerted to the problem following a blaze in an office block at the end of October where firefighters rescued six people. A subsequent inspection of the building revealed 17 rooms with over 50 people living in them.
Inspectors found an absence of essential fire safety features inside, such as fire protection between different floors, and extremely limited means of escape. They said that a more serious fire could easily have ripped through the entire building and residents would have struggled to escape.
Investigations into who owned the property led officers to another building nearby, where they found similar potentially lethal conditions providing housing for 21 people, including three children.
Officers were then alerted to four more properties in the area housing a total of around 80 people.
“The complete contempt some landlords appear to have for the safety of those families they are taking money from is incredible,” said London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety regulation, Steve Turek. “These buildings are potential death traps and it’s lucky nobody was killed as a result. Officers visiting these premises have described the breaches of fire safety as some of the worst they have ever seen.
“We immediately issued prohibition notices on all six buildings to stop them being used as living accommodation. Building owners must understand the responsibilities they have under fire safety law. If we find that people are putting lives at risk by blatantly ignoring them, we will have no hesitation in prosecuting.”
London Fire Brigade is continuing to investigate other conversions in the area and is working with Brent Council and other agencies to rehouse those affected.