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Wandsworth Housing Authority - High Rise Fire Recommendations

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londonfeather Wed 14-Jun-17 19:04:00

MALCOLM GRIMSTON Councillor in Wandsworth just sent around the below email regarding High Rise Fire Recommendations in Wandsworth (but is applicable wider)... thought it included some information which may be helpful to some users of this site:

Dear All,

Several of you have contacted me concerning this morning’s terrible events in Kensington. Wandsworth has about 120 tower blocks, more than any other London authority, and many more low-rise properties. It is naturally important that we make sure that they are safe. I have asked Housing for comments and they have produced the following.

Fire safety checks

Every Wandsworth tower block has an up to date Fire Risk Assessments completed by an independent expert and subject to annual review.

Regular fire safety inspections take place to all blocks during which Estate Service Officers check that our buildings are safe and comply with the highest standards. This includes checking for repairs and defects concerning fire doors, escape routes, service intake cupboards, ‘hopper heads’ and refuse chambers.

Estate Service Officers also carry out annual fire safety checks which look in greater detail at all aspects of the internal areas that could either increase the risk of a fire starting, get in the way of escape routes or allow a fire to spread.

Speculation about over-cladding

In these very early stages of the investigation it is not possible to confirm how the fire at Grenfell Tower was able to spread through the building. However, media reports have speculated perhaps too much cladding was put in and this might have been a factor.

In fact only three Wandsworth tower blocks have that kind of cladding, none in West Hill Ward, and all have up to date fire certificates. In fact in two cases there have been small fires in individual flats and the buildings have done their job of preventing these fires spreading. (This is the important point. Small fires do happen from time to time – as long as the block does not help them spread then the damage is usually restricted to the property where the fire starts.)

Fire safety advice

The Council suggests the following for people in our high-rise blocks:

· make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home – Council tenants will be provided with an alarm at no cost;
· check your smoke alarm is working every month;
· keep balconies free from clutter;
· don’t leave rubbish or bikes in communal areas or obstruct escape routes;
· make sure you know where your nearest fire exit is;
· do not smoke in common areas of the block;
· make sure to call Wandsworth Emergency Control if you see anyone smoking in the building;
· always fully extinguish cigarettes smoked in your home and dispose of them carefully and safely.

Fire Brigade advice

The Fire Brigade has issued the following statement: At this stage we do not yet know what caused the fire. We do not know where it started and we do not know why it spread in the way that it did. This is important to understand for anyone who lives in a high rise property or those advising people living in a similar property. If you live in a high rise property you are not at more risk of a fire starting, living in a flat is not more dangerous than living in a house. Advice from London Fire Brigade for people who live in high rise properties or purpose built flats and maisonettes, aside from having a working smoke alarm and taking fire safety precautions, is to make sure you know your escape plan and what to do if there is a fire inside your home or somewhere else in the building.

To summarise, as is the case whenever a tragedy occurs the authorities need to look very closely at all of the evidence to make sure that any available lessons are learned. However, it is worth remembering that events of this nature, horrendous as they are, are very rare, in the country general and in Wandsworth in particular.

I know all of our thoughts will be with those who have suffered such loss today. At the same time the Fire Brigade advice is important, in my opinion – people in our high rise blocks are no more at risk of fire than those living in any other type of accommodation.

Best wishes,

MALCOLM GRIMSTON
Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward

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