Fire safety fears over West Lothian new homes as experts called in

SAFETY experts have been called in to assess West Lothian homes amid faulty fire protection warnings, the Evening News understands.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 6:00 am
Fire safety fears have been raised. Pic: Ambrozinio - Shutterstock

The move follows TV documentary revelations that fire alarms were poorly installed at homes in West Lothian.

Following the revelations by the BBC Watchdog programme there were reports of assessments carried out yesterday in Winchburgh and Armadale amid fears for families’ safety.

“Because Bellway are not saying very much at the moment, it makes all Bellway homes unsellable because people are very concerned,” said Tory councillor for Winchburgh, Chris Horne.

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“Until they come out and clarify exactly what the problem is what it affects then there are concerns for all Bellway properties.”

Building regulations require new homes to be built with fire protection measures by law to delay the spread of fire and allow crucial time for escape.

In many new builds, particularly timber-framed buildings, fire barriers are a vital part of such protection.

The barriers are used to form a complete seal between different areas of a home, and without them, experts say, fire and smoke can spread five to ten times faster.

Yet BBC’s Watchdog Live claimed Bellway Homes were among those lacking proper fire barriers designed to inhibit the spread of fire.

Programme makers claimed in some cases a lack of fire barriers contributed to the spread of blazes that have destroyed homes.

One owner of a £205,000 three-bed detached Bellway home in Winchburgh said the revelations have left him fearful for his young family’s safety.

“If a fire happens, it can spread five to ten times faster than normal and the chance to escape or even survive is greatly reduced,” said the 32-year-old dad-of-one.

With no way of knowing whether his home is affected, he called for surveyors to be called out to assess any shortcomings.

“It’s not pleasant to think your family might be in jeopardy,” he adeed. “To go to bed and not know whether you’ll be able to get out at night - it’s concerning.”

Cllr Horne has raised the issue with both West Lothian Council’s building standards teams and Bellway.

But a council spokesman said responsibility to meet legal safety requirements sits squarely with housebuilders

He added: “Responsibility for ensuring a completed building meets the building regulations lies with the relevant person, in these cases the developer not the council.

“It’s not the council’s role to carry out an investigation into the build quality of private homes.”

The defect is thought to predominantly affect flats and terraced properties - rather than semi and detached homes.

The Evening News contacted Bellway Homes for comment.