Fire safety concerns prompt legal challenge against Bibby Stockholm barge

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Fire Brigades Union moves towards legal action over safety concerns on the Bibby Stockholm

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has initiated a legal challenge regarding the Bibby Stockholm barge.

In a Pre-Action Protocol letter, the union voiced its apprehensions about safety on the barge to the Home Secretary.

The government has been given a deadline until Thursday, 31st August, to respond.

The Home Secretary’s stance on the Bibby Stockholm barge safety

Previously, the union sought a meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss its worries.

However, the request for this meeting was declined earlier this month. Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the FBU, commented: “The Fire Brigades Union is the professional voice of firefighters. We have been sounding the alarm about the Bibby Stockholm for weeks.”

He further expressed disappointment in the Home Secretary’s reluctance to engage in discussions on the matter.

About the Bibby Stockholm Barge

The Bibby Stockholm barge, based in Portland Port, Dorset, was introduced as part of the government’s plans to house asylum seekers.

This initiative, led by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, aimed to reduce the cost of asylum accommodations by using barges.

The Bibby Stockholm is owned by Liverpool-based Bibby Marine and has faced various challenges since its introduction, both from legal and public perspectives.

The vessel is a three-storey barge intended to house approximately 500 men awaiting their asylum application results.

Several issues, including overcrowding and limited fire exit access, have been raised by the FBU.

Recent media reports indicate that while the barge has three fire exits, one of them is not operational due to safety concerns regarding the steepness of an associated gangway.

Furthermore, the barge, which initially boasted 222 single-occupancy rooms, had extra beds installed to increase its capacity to 506.

IFSJ Comment

The legal challenge underscores the significance of comprehensive fire safety checks and the essential need to maintain safety standards in all accommodations, regardless of their purpose.

The ongoing debate around the Bibby Stockholm barge brings to light the potential risks involved when regulatory guidelines may not have been adhered to strictly.

It also underlines the importance of transparency and collaboration between authorities, organisations, and concerned parties to ensure public safety.

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