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Firefighters blast new fire laws for underestimating the number of buildings clad in flammable material

FIREFIGHTERS warned today that new laws to help councils remove combustible cladding from privately owned flats are a “sticking plaster” and underestimate the scale of the problem.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire announced last week that councils will have the power to strip aluminium composite cladding (ACM) from tower blocks owned by private landlords.

Town halls will then have the power to claim the cost of the operation, expected to run into the millions, from the landlord.

In total, 289 privately-owned blocks have been identified as having ACM cladding. Of that number, only 40 have been removed or started to have been removed.

However the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) argue that the government are grossly underestimating the number of buildings clad in combustible materials.

The union also point to government data showing that there are in fact around 2,135 buildings that are still at risk from being clad in potentially combustible materials.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “The focus on only privately owned buildings is misguided – the true scale of the problem is much bigger.

“Buildings up and down the country are unsafe – the government must address it as a whole, rather than providing a sticking plaster.

“Not only has the government taken too long to act, but their plans do not go far enough.

“We are clear, that to prevent another tragedy from occurring, all combustible cladding must urgently be replaced on all buildings.

“It must be avoided at all costs. The government must listen to the experts.”

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