Residents from a block of flats in Colchester have been moved out of their homes because of fire safety concerns with the building.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) visited the seven-storey residential building, Amleen House in Hawkins Road, Colchester, on Monday 26th June.
During the inspection, ECFRS recorded numerous fire safety issues and regretfully served a prohibition notice against the property which came into effect at 10pm on Monday 26th June 2023.
This means the responsible person for the premises had a legal obligation to make sure all residents of the building had vacated by 10pm, as ECFRS believed there was a serious risk to life related to fire safety.
ECFRS Executive Officer Area Manager Jim Palmer said:
“Essex County Fire and Rescue Service will only ever
“In this instance, we are clear that the property did not meet fire regulations. Specifically, we believe if there was a fire in the building, due to the way it’s been built, there is potential for rapid fire spread internally. This would mean residents would not be able to evacuate safely and this would put residents at a higher risk of serious injury or death.
“It would therefore have been highly irresponsible for our Service not to immediately prohibit the use of the building.”
Although the block of flats is privately owned, the majority of people living there were students and their dependents from the University of Essex. There were also some students from other higher education institutions and a small number of non-student families. ECFRS worked with the University of Essex and Colchester City Council on the evening the prohibition notice was served to make sure everyone living there was supported in understanding what was happening and had temporary accommodation to go to if they needed it.
A spokesperson from the University of Essex said:
“We are deeply concerned about the fire safety issues identified by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service at these privately-operated flats in Colchester.
“Our students and their dependents were at risk of being left homeless so we immediately stepped up to offer them access to emergency accommodation.
“Our staff visited the site alongside fire officers so we could tell students straightaway about the support we could offer and gave close to 100 people somewhere safe to stay – including several families.
“We’re now following up with ongoing support and advice to our students, while continuing to liaise closely with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.
“We are keen to highlight that we have high standard accommodation options available on our campus for students choosing to study at Essex and if students cannot find something appropriate we always recommend they use the SU Homes service managed by our Students’ Union – which helps them secure good quality and affordable accommodation.”
A spokesperson for Colchester City Council said:
“Following the serving of the prohibition notice, we worked with the Fire Service to support the evacuation of the residents. The council has temporarily housed six families in a local hotel, and Essex University has housed close to 100 people.
“The Health and Safety Executive has been informed and the council is supporting the Fire Service to ensure the landlord complies with the Enforcement Notice.
“We understand that this is a worrying time for residents, and we will continue to work with all agencies involved to ensure that their safety is our top priority.”
As residents were asked to leave immediately on the evening the notice was served, partners identified there would be a need to them to briefly return to gather their belongings to allow them to leave home indefinitely. ECFRS, University of Essex and Colchester City Council worked together to make sure this was carried out in a safe and controlled manner and this took place on Tuesday 27 June.
If any building owners are concerned about their own premises our would like more information on how to prevent situations like this from happening please visit essex-fire.gov.uk/business-safety