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Fire safety regulations are broken at children's home

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THE owner of a children's home found to have breached half a dozen fire regulations has insisted the building is safe and the children who live there are not in danger.

McRae Residential Care Services, which runs the home in Liverpool Street, Thornton Heath, have been found to have broken seven aspects of the Fire Safety Order 2005.

Managing director Kevin Henry said he was "surprised" by the breaches but that there was nothing to be "seriously concerned" about.

"I wouldn't want anyone to think there isn't a fire alarm system in place or there's no fire doors," he told the Advertiser.

"Everything is there, [the fire brigade] just want it at another level."

Among the issues raised by London Fire Brigade (LFB) was the "failure to provide a suitable method of giving warning in case of a fire".

Investigators also found the home, which cares for looked after children, had not "provided and/or maintained adequate and clearly indicated emergency routes" and failed to "ensure the premises and any facilities, equipment and devices are maintained in efficient state, in effective working order and in good repair".

The LFB inspection, conducted in July, also raised concerns about the lack of emergency plan, said staff had not been given "adequate" safety training and ruled that managers had failed to complete a risk assessment.

McRae, which also runs a home in Lodge Road, Croydon, were issued with an enforcement notice giving it until mid-October to make improvements.

Mr Henry, given an OBE for services to further education in 2011 as part of his work as chair of governors at Croydon College, told the Advertiser: "Anyone reading that might think looked after children are in danger. That's not the case. Technically it could be if we had a fire tomorrow, if the fire alarm system didn't work and if staff weren't aware; all sorts of things would have to go wrong for things to be of serious concern.

"The fire brigade are obviously looking at a worst case scenario so, with respect to that, we will do what we are required to do."

Mr Henry, now a governor at a special school in South Croydon, said the issues raised were as a result of a change in regulations, even though the law came into place in 2005.

"This building has been registered for something like 20 years," he said.

"The fire alarm system was put in place, as required, at the time. We have had the same system in place ever since. It has been checked regularly. We have an annual contract with a fire prevention company. It gets serviced every year and we have drills.

"It has never been a problem, but now [the fire brigade] say the regulations have changed."

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order applies to virtually all buildings, places and structures, including shops, restaurants, offices and nightclubs.

An enforcement notice is issued when fire safety officers decide the act has been breached. If not acted upon then a prohibition notice will issued, preventing the premises from being used.

Croydon Council said it used to place children at the care home but no longer does because the company decided not to retender its contract.

Fire safety regulations are broken at children's home


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