Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeSecurityMigrant barge to house 500 male asylum seekers could become "floating Grenfell"

Migrant barge to house 500 male asylum seekers could become “floating Grenfell”

Plans to start moving asylum seekers on to the Bibby Stockholm barge could reportedly face fresh setbacks over fire safety concerns.

The Home Office had been planning to send the first 50 migrants to the barge in Portland, Dorset, on Tuesday.

But The Times reported serious fire safety concerns about the vessel, with fire service approval pending.

The Home Office said it is undergoing “final preparations” ahead of the first arrivals “in the coming weeks”.

Bibby Stockholm will eventually house 500 male asylum seekers and is expected to remain in Portland for 18 months.

It will be the first time migrants have been housed in a berthed vessel in the UK.

According to The Times, a source told the paper of fears the barge could become a “floating Grenfell”, in reference to the west London tower block tragedy in 2017.

A spokesman for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) said it has provided “advice and comment” to the Home Office and the operators of the barge and is prepared to “exercise our enforcement powers” if necessary.

Fire safety manager Graham Kewley explained: “Where any aspect falls within the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, we will be undertaking appropriate audits to confirm that adequate general fire precautions are in place.

“We have provided advice and comment in relation to fire safety arrangements to both the Home Office and the vessels operators during our familiarisation and pre-occupation visits.

“We do not conduct fire risk assessments or provide an approval process prior to occupation of a premises, but will exercise our enforcement powers to address any significant areas of non-compliance where necessary.

“It would be inappropriate for DWFRS to provide further detail on the specific systems and emergency plans in place, as these could impact upon the safety of the vessel and/or its occupants.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites and vessels will provide cheaper and more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats.

“The Bibby Stockholm is now undergoing final preparations to ensure it complies with all appropriate regulations before the arrival of the first asylum seekers in the coming weeks.”

(Source: BBC)

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