Tenants are being warned by West Lancashire Borough Council over fire safety after diesel was found stored in a cupboard in the communal area of some flats.
The highly flammable fuel was discovered in the first floor storage cupboard after it had leaked and seeped through the concrete flooring into the meter cupboard and the communal area below.
Council officers spoke to the owner of the diesel who confirmed it belonged to him and told them it had been stored there for a few days. This was a clear breach of his tenancy as the conditions state that people living in Council accommodation must not keep or use paraffin or any other dangerous material in their home or in communal areas.
The tenant involved in this incident has agreed to sign an acceptable behaviour contract not to store hazardous liquid, pay the £154.76 costs of the clean-up and keep to the terms of his tenancy.
Councillor Jenny Forshaw, portfolio holder for Housing and Landlord Services, said: “This tenant lives in a block of flats so was not only putting his own life at risk but that of all the other residents. The Council takes fire safety very seriously and will take appropriate action against those who put others in danger and fail to comply with their tenancy agreements.”
A Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “All residents in blocks of flats should be mindful of the fact that the communal stairway is often their only way out in an emergency. Anything that would present a fire risk in the communal area could trap them and endanger their life. So it is really important that residents follow the Council’s guidance and abide by the terms of their tenancies.”
The Council has been managing a programme of works to improve fire safety in communal blocks. This has included new fire doors, door closers, and removing internal bin stores.
The Council has taken a zero tolerance approach to tenants storing personal belongings in communal areas which could be considered to be putting others at risk. Earlier this year letters were sent to residents with access to store cupboards stating that in order to continue utilising this facility they must not use it to store any combustible items. Examples given were:
- Oil based paints and varnishes
- Petrol / diesel / lighter fluid or any other flammable liquid
- Gas canisters / cylinders of any type
- Large quantities of newspaper or any other form of paper
- Old furniture no longer used
- Sofas / settees / mattresses