Local authorities and housing associations carry out fire safety checks on high-rise developments

Thorough safety checks are set to take place across high-rise developments in the UK following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has written to local authorities and housing associations regarding urgent fire safety checks following the fire on 14th June.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said it needed to know how the fire started and why it spread so quickly so that councils can start to take any action needed.

“Following the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower, councils with tower blocks in their local area have been working with their local fire service, and undertaking urgent reviews of their high-rise buildings,” said Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA.

“Fire risk assessments and the construction of buildings are being reviewed and double checks are being made to ensure remedial work recommended under previous assessments has been carried out.

“Councils are also working closely with tenants to review and offer fire safety advice.”

Rydon Maintenance Limited – which completed a partial refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in the summer of 2016 for Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation – said it met all the required building regulations as well as fire regulation and health & safety standards.
In a statement, Robert Bond, CEO of Rydon Group, said: “We have been working with local authorities for nearly 40 years and safety and quality are integral to everything we do at Rydon.”

In the aftermath of the fire, RICS urged owners and managers of residential tower blocks to urgently carry out fire safety checks to ensure that appropriate safety and response measures were in place.

In particular, it stated that it was important to identify whether any high-rise buildings incorporated panels of aluminium composite material.

Michael Dean, principal at Avamore Capital, stated: “High-density housing is always at risk of catastrophic fire incidents like the one at Grenfell and proper safety measures are essential to prevent disasters occurring.
“Older towers, in particular, should have thorough safety audits to look at the effectiveness of alarm systems, internal sprinklers/fire dispersal and fire-safe means of escape among other things.”

Nora Rebole, monitoring surveyor at Zorin Finance, felt that high-rise residential tower blocks were well established, very modern in construction and designed to keep occupants well protected.

“…Modern buildings are designed to self-contain the fire for a specific time to facilitate the extinction of the fire and evacuation of inhabitants.

“In the devastating Grenfell Tower fire, that process obviously failed.

“After this unfortunate event, it’s very likely that fire safety checks and safety systems will be enforced in all existing tower blocks to ensure that they comply with the current legislation for new builds.”

Michael felt any changes that needed to be made to tower block developments would have to factor in how the costs of the modifications would be passed on.

“Many former council blocks may have been sold off and have a series of long leaseholders who self-manage these blocks, who may be resistant to making changes on account of the high costs and disruption that these will inevitably entail."


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