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London Fire Brigade in new "beds in sheds" warning after shocking figures published

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London Fire Brigade in new "beds in sheds" warning after shocking figures published

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government

London Fire Brigade in new London Fire Brigade in new "beds in sheds" warning after shocking figures published

The London Fire Brigade has published shocking new figures showing the risk to life posed by the capital's "beds in sheds" epidemic.

The fire service revealed that over the last three years it has dealt with 235 fires - almost one every five days – in buildings found to have people living in them when they should not have been. These fires alone have caused four deaths and 45 serious injuries, more than one a month.

Fire chiefs say they are particularly concerned at emerging evidence which shows a growth in ad-hoc “back garden developments” which sees sheds and other unsuitable buildings, such as garages and industrial units, being rented out as accommodation.

Since 2009 there have been 16 fires, three fire deaths and seven serious fire injuries at incidents specifically involving properties fitting this description - so-called “beds in sheds.”

The latest "beds in sheds" fire took place in Thornton Heath, south London, on October 2. Two men survived the blaze but both suffered burns and smoke inhalation and were taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews. Five mattresses were found in the outbuilding following the fire.

The London Fire Brigade is now calling on Londoners to be vigilant and to inform their local council housing team or the fire service if they see signs that disreputable landlords are trying to profit from people living in "dodgy developments" that are clearly not meant to be inhabited.

Chair of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority’s Strategy Committee Cllr Crada Onuegbu said: "The issue of "beds in sheds", as well as people living in other unsuitable buildings, continues to be a concern, as unscrupulous landlords looking to make a quick buck put lives at risk in shoddy accommodation.

"These figures are a stark reminder that properties like these are potentially lethal fire traps. It’s inevitable that people living in them rely on far riskier ways of heating, cooking and lighting but unfortunately fire safety is not a priority for the landlords who illegally rent them out.

"It’s not only people living in this accommodation whose lives are being put in danger. There’s also an increased risk to our firefighters if they need to carry out life-saving rescues in buildings that are in a state of dereliction and that were never intended to be used as sleeping accommodation."

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