Nearly half of public buildings and flats audited by firefighters in Dorset and Wiltshire fail to meet fire safety standards, figures reveal.

All non-domestic properties and communal areas receive fire safety checks to make sure they follow fire safety laws. If a rating of “unsatisfactory” is given changes must be made.

Firefighters from Dorset and Wiltshire fire brigade carried out 1,198 audits in 2018-19, the latest Home Office statistics show. Buildings tested include care homes, hospitals and high-rises, as well as schools and shops.

Of these, 46 per cent were unsatisfactory – 557 buildings in total.

Inspectors issued 116 written warnings in 2018-19, and 12 formal notices including nine prohibition notices banning or restricting use of the premises until problems are sorted.

Across England, crews carried out 49,300 audits in 2018-19, representing 3% of all premises known to them.

A third of audits were unsatisfactory, a similar share to the previous year, though the number of audits carried out was down by 42 per cent since 2010-11.

Inspections of buildings across the fire brigade's area took in 1.3 per cent of all 'known premises', less than half of the 3 per cent national average