UK

MOD Says All Its Accommodation Meets Standards Amid Fire Safety Concerns

There were 373 reported fires across defence accommodation between April 2017 and March 2018 including two "notable fires".

More than 300 fires were reported in defence accommodation during the 12 months from April 2017 (Picture: MOD).

The Ministry of Defence says all of its accommodation meet fire regulations after concerns were raised about the condition of some military accommodation.

It follows serious fire safety concerns raised by MPs, who it is understood are tabling an urgent question for the Defence Secretary to answer when parliament returns on Monday.

In an annual report published by the Defence Safety Authority (DSA) in October 2018, Lieutenant General Richard Felton concluded that there was what is known as a "Limited Safety Assurance", which Lt Gen Felton said "should not be accepted as being good enough".

From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 373 reported fires including two "notable fires", one at Aliwal Barracks at Tidworth in Wiltshire and Theipval Barracks at Lisburn in Northern Ireland.

The DSA report summarised that there is "a fundamental lack of clarity and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the management of fire safety across defence" and that until "major weaknesses" are addressed, "the likelihood of a fire resulting in significant loss of life... will remain high".

Military service accomodation

The MOD says the Defence Fire Management and Risk Organisation regularly inspects all MOD buildings for fire safety standards and that it has 50 qualified fire safety practitioners to advise on fire safety.

A spokesperson for the MOD said: "All occupied buildings owned by the MOD meet national building and fire regulations and we regularly inspect our sites to ensure they meet safety standards.

"We are making improvements to fire safety across our sites, including bolstering our resources for fire assurance."

Last November, the MOD announced a five-year plan to modernise its defence estate, including the construction of new buildings and accommodation and refurbishment of current facilities.

Julian Lewis MP, Chair of The Defence Select Committee, believes soldiers have a right to be worried:

"Particularly if we are talking about accommodation which in some cases, as in the case I believe with Wellington Barracks in London, is vertically in a vulnerable situation.

"If you are in a tall tower block and something breaks out we only have the terrible example of Grenfell tragedy to concern us.

"In light of that disaster it would cause immense reputational damage to the MOD if there were to be anything like a fire in that sort of situation which wasn’t immediately contained and dealt with."

 

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