Agenda item

Checks to Buildings Following the Grenfell Tower Fire

Minutes:

Clare Tostevin, the Director of Communities and Dave Kirkham, the Fire Safety lead at Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) provided an update on the safety of the seven residential tower blocks at College Bank in Rochdale.

 

The Committee was advised that no cladding existed on the residential tower blocks in Rochdale and that these were of a simple concrete construction with no gas supply to the buildings. All seven blocks at College Bank were repoted as having met all the current fire safety standards and each block had a full fire risk assessment in place. In addition, in the period 2016/2017 RBH had  invested in excess of £300,000 in a programme of fire safety upgrades at College Bank, including the fitting of emergency lighting, replacement bin hoppers and upgrades to a number of existing fire doors.

 

A review the fire risk assessments for College Bank was undertaken on an annual basis and following the recent investment, a full and rigorous fire risk assessment on each block at College Bank which had been brought forward following the unprecedented fire at Grenfell Tower in London.

 

The evacuation procedures for the residential blocks had been reviewed in the light of the fire at Grenfell Tower and new information leaflets had been delivered to all the residents of the blocks explaining the ‘Stay Put’ policy meaning that only those in whose flat the fire occurs are required to evacuate their premises.

 

RBH had also delivered smoke detection and interlinked sprinkler suppression systems within the bin compounds to ensure a fire in this location cannot develop outside of that area and all blocks had also been provided with rising fire mains and all fire related facilities were serviced, maintained and tested in accordance with the requirements of the relevant legislation and the manufacturers recommendations. In addition to the legislative requirements the caretakers undertook twice daily inspections of all 7 blocks and where necessary removed any items of rubbish or unauthorised storage which have presented both a fire risk and safety risk.

 

A Service Level Agreement and Information Sharing Agreement with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service for the delivery of Home Safety Checks to tenants were by appointment and had resulted in vulnerable tenants having received advice and reassurance.

 

The Assistant director of Place updated Members on a meeting organised by the Mayor of Greater Manchester to discuss the safety of high rise tower blocks across the city region. Councillor Emmott attended the meeting along with representatives from the Housing Providers across the region and Senior Council officers.

 

During consideration of the report a query was raised with regard to owner occupied flats.  The Committee was advised that the fire safety upgrades had also been offered to owner occupiers where required.

 

A query regarding the robustness of the procurement process was raised with regard to ensuring that the materials used when the building renovations took place were of the specified standard.  The Committee were advised that those blocks across GM that are clad were to be inspected and the cladding tested by GMFRS. The Assistant Director Place advised that a special GM Highrise Task Force was to be set up and that checks will continue to be carried out across Greater Manchester on all social landlord, private and student blocks of flats. The cladding used on school and college buildings was also to be checked.

 

DECIDED – that the report be noted