Tuesday 25 July 2017
A further joint fire safety update has been issued by the Council and South Essex Homes following the devastating Grenfell Tower flat fire in June.
Since the tragic fire South Essex Homes have attended all of the Borough’s 13 tower blocks over 10 storeys, and a tri-partite review in conjunction with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) is being arranged. Reviews of all current risk assessments are now taking place on properties of six floors and over, followed by visits for properties of four floors and over.
Following these visits and review, some immediate actions are underway (see below) and recommendations are being collated to be considered by the Council and the South Essex Homes Board in the future.
Immediate measures that have been taken by South Essex Homes include:
· South Essex Homes have put in place a quicker response to the removal of items in communal areas causing fire hazards. This now sees items removed immediately or within 24 hours, instead of the previous 7 days
· All drying rooms not being used for correct purposes are having the rubbish removed followed by the rooms bolted and will no longer be available to residents
· Steel secure containers have been purchased and will be installed away from the tower blocks on the Queensway and Balmoral sites to provide temporary space for flytipped rubbish to be stored prior to its removal
· South Essex Homes will be fitting automatic smoke vents to all floors at the three Balmoral tower blocks and are in the process of obtaining prices for this work. Other blocks already have these automatic smoke vents fitted, but the fire service have requested that we also fit fixed louvered vents at the top of the stair wells, so this work is also being progressed
· South Essex Homes have been completing Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEP) forms for any residents who are concerned regarding their mobility if the fire service needs to evacuate a block. This information is held within the Premise Information Boxes (PIB) for each block
· South Essex Homes are now undertaking a door knocking exercise across our tower blocks to give assurance to residents and undertake household safety surveys, ensuring records are up to date and identify any people who may require assistance from the fire service to evacuate their home in the event of a fire
· A four page fire safety guide will be delivered to all tenants and leaseholders through the South Essex Homes Summer 2017 Insight magazine
The Council has also:
· Completed a return to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) detailing all council owned tower blocks within one week of the Grenfell fire
· Tested its own fire evacuation procedures and fire risk assessments for the Civic Centre tower block and other relevant buildings
· Exhaustively searched records to identify other privately owned tower blocks that may be clad, and provided a list to the fire service and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). This work has taken place despite the DCLG confirming to councils that there is no requirement for councils to do this as the private sector have been asked by the DCLG to provide a return to them
· Brought forward £2m to complete the installation of new fire doors, panels and communal doors at two town centre tower blocks one year earlier than planned
Cllr John Lamb, Leader of the Council, said: “Fire safety has always been an absolute priority and continues to be in the light of the recent tragic events in London.
“Cllr Flewitt and I are reassured, and we hope that residents are too, at the vast amount of work that South Essex Homes have carried out, much of it in partnership with the fire service, to carry out further checks and I am pleased to hear about their plans to carry out a door knocking exercise across all tower blocks in the Borough. Council staff have also acted swiftly to compile returns to the DCLG and searched records to look at the private market too, despite there being no requirement to do so. We have done this because it is the right and responsible thing to do.
“Following our decision to bring forward £2m to complete a programme of replacing all front entrance doors and frames, along with all communal doors and panels, South Essex Homes are now tendering so that this work can be completed by the end of the financial year.
“The tri-partite review of fire safety between the Council, SEH and EFRS is just commencing, and will provide recommendations to be considered by the council and South Essex Homes Board in the Autumn.”