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Colchester homes investigated for fire safety by BBC Inside Out

05 Sep Colchester homes investigated for fire safety by BBC Inside Out

Fire safety and building regulations are in the spotlight following the 2017 Grenfell Fire disaster which resulted in over 70 deaths.  And in this week’s BBC Inside Out East opened an investigation into two housing developments reveals some shocking results…

The programme featured a three storey Colchester house being tested for air flow by a team of experts. Smoke is pumped through the house to see where air could be travelling through hidden voids.

In less than ten seconds, smoke is coming out of the boiler flu and the roof line and reaches the top of the house. The test is not used for fire safety but can reveal the passage of air. The developer says that this was not a realistic experiment as cold smoke behaves differently to smoke in a real fire.

After further inspection Arnold Tarling Chartered Surveyor and Fire Safety expert also says that electrical fittings in the ceiling have failed to be fire stopped and the plasterboard hasn’t been thoroughly sealed on the walls which could make it easier for fire to spread.

Mr Tarling raised concerns about the use of cladding on tower blocks years before the Grenfell fire.  After all tests are completed on the Colchester home, Arnold discusses what they found,My assessment is, it’s way below standard. Fire precautions wise, it was very, very poor, because as we saw from the kitchen, smoke and the likes spread straight into your escape route via the toilet. That’s totally unacceptable, you’ve got two floors above, and how would they get out? Within 5 seconds we had smoke coming through the roof. That is appalling.”

Seven out of ten fires start in kitchens and guidance states the spread of smoke should be restricted with sealants. But there’s no clear rule about how this should be done. A review of building regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire, has shown there is lack of clarity in how they should be followed.

In a block of flats in Norwich, Arnold Tarling and Inside Out presenter Jo Taylor, watch on as an air flow test shows that there is an unsealed air path between the loft and the kitchen. Air is able to travel via an unsealed opening around a pipe in the roof, and out from under the kitchen units.

You Can Watch Inside Out on the BBC iPlayer.