A THIRD of public buildings and flats audited by fire services in Royal Berkshire fail to meet fire safety standards, figures reveal.

All non-domestic properties and communal areas receive fire safety audits at some point, to make sure they follow fire safety laws, with a rating of "unsatisfactory" indicating changes are needed.

READ ALSO: Check your change for one of these rare 50p coins.

Royal Berkshire firefighters carried out 1,137 audits in 2018-19, the latest Home Office statistics show.

Buildings tested include care homes, hospitals and high-rises, as well as schools and shops.

Of these, 36% were deemed unsatisfactory – 407 buildings in total.

READ ALSO: Reading gaol hug great success as hundreds hold hands around prison.

Checking unsatisfactory buildings took up 21 weeks of fire crews' time, according to the data, with tasks ranging from contacting property owners and managers to carrying out on-site visits and enforcement action.

Premises falling short on safety standards are subject to follow-up action from the fire service or courts, taking into account the threat posed to the public and whether those responsible agree to make changes.

Inspectors issued 286 written warnings in 2018-19, and 16 formal notices comprising of:

  • 13 enforcement notices stating what improvements are needed and when
  • One prohibition notice banning or restricting use of the premises until problems are sorted
  • One order to tell firefighters of changes that may raise the fire risk in the building
  • One prosecution

Following audits, 381 premises were brought back into "satisfactory" standards.

Not all premises in the area would have been inspected over the period.

Fire services choose how many audits they carry out based on their own inspection strategy – meaning crews may elect to target higher-risk properties.

Across England, crews carried out 49,300 audits in 2018-19, representing 3% of all premises known to them.

A third of audits were unsatisfactory, a similar share to the previous year, though the number of audits carried out was down by 42% since 2010-11.

Asked what fewer fire checks meant for public safety, a Home Office spokeswoman said: "Fire and rescue services have the resources they need to do their important work and overall will receive around £2.3 billion in 2019-20.

"Fire and rescue authorities must have in place a risk-based inspection programme to ensure buildings comply with fire safety standards.

"It is for individual fire and rescue authorities to decide what inspections are necessary, based on their assessment of local risk."