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Fire risks found in most tower blocks

The majority of Birmingham’s 224 tower blocks are in need of work to improve their fire safety, an investigation has discovered.

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The BBC study found one tower block, Bakeman House, has been refurbished at a cost of £4.7 million but an inspection revealed every fire screen in the common parts of the block would fail, allowing flames to spread.

Birmingham council said fire safety work in 64 of its tower blocks will be completed by the end of the financial year - including at Bakeman House.

Last year, six people died when fire spread through the 12-storey Lakanal House in Camberwell, London, after it had been refurbished under the government’s Decent Homes programme. The fire prompted Inside Housing’s Safe as Houses campaign.

The BBC highlighted Douglas House in Coventry as another potential site with fire risk. It is run by Whitefriars Housing, which said: ‘Our customers’ safety is our chief concern. We have conducted in-depth fire risk assessments three times in the past year.

‘We are satisfied that these blocks meet appropriate safety levels. In each case the assessments, with the fire service in attendance, identified that there are no significant fire safety concerns with these blocks.

‘As is always the case, there will be ongoing repair requirements which we will continue to deal with as and when they occur.’

A government spokesperson said: ‘Fire safety in high-rise buildings is a matter of great concern to the thousands of people who live in them and the government takes this issue very seriously.

‘The Decent Homes programme has also improved the quality and safety of social housing by requiring that homes should be free from serious health and safety hazards, including fire.’

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