Brigade admits they were due to visit King’s Lynn fire home on day of fatal blaze

Incident at King's Lynn Alice Fisher Cresent North Lynn ANL-160114-112920009
Incident at King's Lynn Alice Fisher Cresent North Lynn ANL-160114-112920009
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A man who died in a fire at his North Lynn home was due to be visited for a risk assessment on the day of the tragedy, it has emerged.

Fire service chiefs have admitted they received a request for a safety visit for the property on Alice Fisher Crescent almost two weeks before the blaze last month.

But they have also defended their handling of the request, insisting that officers did install two 10-year smoke alarms at the house three years ago.

And they have warned that continuing funding pressures on the service are likely to mean that residents will have to pay for their own smoke alarms in the future.

Tim Edwards, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service district manager for West Norfolk, said the case was unprecedented and is currently being reviewed.

He said: “We’ve been doing this for 15 years and this has never happened before. It’s absolutely tragic.”

Four crews were called to the property at around 6.20am on January 14 after the blaze broke out.

A man, named locally at the time as Chris Flegg, died in the blaze, while his mother, Carol, was rescued by firefighters.

Investigations into the cause of the fire are continuing, although initial inquiries have suggested there was not a working smoke alarm in the property.

However, the service has confirmed that a request was made for a fire safety check to be made at the property on January 1, almost two weeks before the blaze.

Mr Edwards also revealed crews had been due to visit the property on the very day of the fire.

But he said the case was felt to be a lower priority because of the work that was carried out to install smoke detectors there in the spring of 2013.

He explained that requests are prioritised based on the perceived level of risk, such as whether the resident is able to escape unaided in the event of a fire. Cases are often referred from other agencies.

He said that, while the service aims to resolve the most serious cases within 48 hours, others will take longer, adding: “Two weeks is not unrealistic.”

The scheme is also being reviewed amid the financial squeeze on the fire service.

Last week, a Norfolk County Council committee backed plans to raise council tax in order to prevent cuts including the closure of fire stations in Heacham, Outwell and West Walton.

But proposals to redeploy night crews in Lynn may still be implemented, although the authority says that will only be decided by the county’s chief fire officer or other senior council officials.

However, the plan has led to warnings from union leaders about the potential for even more serious consequences of overnight house fires, amid fears that help will take longer to arrive.

Mr Edwards said funding to provide smoke alarms had also been pulled, though Rotary club officials have provided support for the project.

But he added: “We’re reviewing the whole home fire risk assessments and how we can best serve the public.”

He said residents should ensure they have working smoke detectors in their homes and an escape plan for how to get out if a fire does break out.

But he warned: “We have been able to supply this (smoke alarms) in the past but, with funding pressures now, that is going to have to be borne by householders themselves.”

Some smoke alarms cost as little as £5, though others are more expensive.

Mr Edwards said: “We’re not talking about a huge amount of money.”