Fire Borough Commander issues safety challenge to landlords and letting agents

Redbridge’s top firefighter is on a mission to stamp out fires in rented homes by offering practical advice on how they can be made safe.

Richard Binder, Redbridge fire service’s Borough Commander, has issued an appeal to landlords and letting agents to join him and other fire safety experts at a free fire safety day on March 23.

People who attend the day at Jack Carter Pavillion, Oakfields Sports Ground, Fencepeice Road, Hainault, will gain invaluable advice about making sure their properties are safe, what their legal obligations are and how to get a fire risk assessment. They will also get a free lunch.

Fires in dwellings are on the rise and Cmdr Binder said his firefighters regularly report back with tales of dodgy electrics, a lack of escape routes or inadequate fire doors.

After two people died in a house fire in the early hours of New Year’s Day last year, he started to think of what he could do to prevent the tragedy happening again.

“It’s not a training day, it’s not a prosecution day, it’s not telling people off, it’s just trying to make sure people know their responsibilities,” he said.

Around 45 people die in fires in London every year.

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With a transient population, many of whom could be sub-letting, and conversions of family homes into shared houses and flats looking no signs of abating, it is near impossible to keep tabs on who is renting to whom.

There are 15 registered landlords whose properties are checked by council officers in Redbridge. But fire community safety officer Sue Spurrs, who is also working on the project, identified 160 letting agents in a quick search on the internet alone.

Even where landlords have followed all the rules in their properties, filling a building with several family units, all of whom will have their own cooking facilities and electric devices, increases the risk of fire.

And Cmdr Binder fears the risk will get worse.

“What’s happening is that we know that the amount of people who are going to come into the borough is going to go up and up and up. Not everyone will go into a fit-for-purpose home.

“Some of these people are quite vulnerable. They need to be protected as best we can.”

To register for the free fire safety day contact Sue Spurrs, fire community safety officer on 8555 1200 ext 35525 or email

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