On behalf of local residents who have expressed concerns about their homes in light of the recent tragedy we have been in dialogue with Incommunities to seek assurances that the cladding and fire precautions are safe and fit for purpose.
Incommunities have issued the following, which we will continue to scrutinise and challenge.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force in October 2006. This placed a legal duty on us to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment out on all blocks of flats, sheltered schemes, offices etc. which have communal areas. Within the legislation there is no prescriptive definition for frequencies of risk assessments, however we follow recent government guidance of annual checks for high rise and sheltered schemes. Please note high rise flats fall within the category of 4+ storey blocks.
Current Status for Incommunities:
Within guidance, high rise are designated as blocks of 4+ storeys and are subject to annual fire risk inspections. None of our blocks have an out-of-date Fire Risk Assessment.
Actions identified as part of fire risk assessments are awarded a rating of Category A, B or C (which are reviewed regularly). Category A and B are works that are either needed immediately or urgently. I can assure the Board we have no Category A or B works currently outstanding. We are working on those designated as ‘C’ which are classed as minor works eg., renewing or relocating signage in blocks etc.
All Officers responsible for carrying out Fire Safety Risk Assessments are fully qualified and competent to carry these assessments.
The Fire Safety Policy is being reviewed in June 2017 at Policy and Performance Committee. Existing controls include a bi-annual Fire Safety Core Group which has a clearly defined Terms of Reference chaired by the ACE (Asset Management).
Board members can be assured we meet all the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.
Type of Cladding used in Incommunities High Rise Blocks
When we clad our own high-rise blocks we have used a non-combustible rock wool insulation with a render finish.
Following agreement with the Fire Service we operate a Stay Put policy for tenants if there is a fire in their block and they are not directly affected by it. This is the same policy as at Grenfell House.
Our policy is based on the construction of our blocks (mainly concrete) and the compartmentation of individual flats meaning that each one should be able to contain a fire for at least an hour – enough time for the Fire Services to attend. This policy is supported by risk assessments and the West Yorkshire Fire Service.