THE Tidworth firm responsible for local army garrisons has said safety of soldiers is "paramount", after a leaked report revealed concerns about fire safety.

Aspire Defence addressed the concerns after a Tory MP claimed soldiers are living in barracks which are "not fit for animals" earlier this week.

The firm, which is responsible for building, improving and maintaining soldiers’ single living and working accommodation in Tidworth and Bulford, Larkhill, Aldershot and Warminster, said it would "continue to ensure safety standards are upheld".

Inspectors from the Defence Safety Authority, which commissioned the report after fires at a number of barracks, said cuts to funding have led to an "unacceptable degradation" of barracks.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said all its buildings met fire regulations and £4 billion was being invested on modernising sites across the country.

But Tory MP Johnny Mercer, a former Army officer and a member of the Commons Defence Committee, told the Sun: "Animals would not be housed in such dangerous conditions.

"It is disgraceful how ministers talk up our armed forces at every opportunity, and yet, away from the spotlight, ask our most loyal public servants to endure totally unacceptable and lethal living environments."

The findings in the report on single living accommodation, used by unmarried soldiers, highlighted "faulty equipment" and "broken or unserviceable infrastructure".

Although the review has not been released, its findings are referred to in the DSA's annual report, published without fanfare in October 2018, which revealed 373 fires reported across the three services in 2017-18.

It noted "the apparent disinvestment or lack of priority afforded to fire safety across our infrastructure is being mirrored in the ambivalence of the very people it is there to protect".

The likelihood of a fire resulting in "significant loss of life, loss of capability and damage to Defence's reputation will remain high" unless those "major weaknesses" are addressed.

A spokesman for Aspire Defence said: "A fire at Aliwal Barracks in Tidworth was mentioned in the DSA’s Annual Assurance Report for the period April 2017 to March 2018 (already in the public domain).

"We were aware of this fire, and active and passive fire systems worked effectively, to ensure that it was contained to the room in which it started. The safety of soldiers living in accommodation built and managed by Aspire Defence is paramount.

"We are proud of our excellent track record on safety and quality."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "All occupied buildings owned by the MoD meet national building and fire regulations and we regularly inspect our sites to ensure they meet safety standards.

"We are making improvements to fire safety across our sites, including bolstering our resources for fire assurance."