A FIRE safety report on the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port called for five changes that needed to be made to ensure asylum seekers were not at risk in case a fire broke out.

The inspection was conducted by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service on August 10, three days after the first asylum seekers moved on board.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that lives could have been put "at risk" due to a lack of safe escape routes, a lack of fire drills and a risk that any fire could spread quickly on the barge.

The report found that the barge did not have enough escape routes and that some escape routes could be hindered by locked doors.

Two stairwells aboard the barge did not have proper ventilation, which could prevent the stairs from being a safe escape route.

Inspectors also raised concerns about the lack of fire drills on the barge.

The report said: "If people do not understand what to do in case of fire they may behave inappropriately if fire breaks out. When people are familiar with what to do, their safety is more assured."

Barge operators previously said they would not carry out fire drills due to a risk of "re-traumatising asylum seekers."

The report identified that "some people were at risk in case of fire" and that improvements are "required" to provide additional safety.

The report ordered the improvements to be completed within a month of the inspection.

It comes as the Fire Brigades Union has threatened legal action over safety on board the barge.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The health and welfare of asylum seekers remains of the utmost priority, and we are working closely with external partners and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service to further improve safety measures on the vessel.

“The Bibby Stockholm successfully completed all fire and safety checks ahead of the first individuals boarding. The vessel completed a statutory inspection and refurbishment before undergoing final preparations to accommodate asylum seekers."

A spokesperson for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "In line with our regulatory powers under the Fire Safety Order, we carried out a fire safety audit of the Bibby Stockholm on 10 August.

"The findings have been shared with the Home Office and the vessel’s operator. Based on the current risk assessment, we have no major concerns about fire safety and there is no requirement for formal enforcement action.

"The audit identified a number of minor deficiencies which require rectification.  The Responsible Person has confirmed that an action plan is in place to address these matters and implemented additional control measures in the interim.

"We will be carrying out a further inspection to confirm that the items raised have been dealt with.

"It is the responsibility of the Home Office and the vessel’s operator to ensure that the fire risk assessment is kept under constant review, especially as occupancy increases.

"We will continue to provide advice and guidance, and to undertake further audits to satisfy ourselves that fire safety is being maintained."