Sprinklers in high-rise blocks, free replacements for faulty appliances, safety checks for every council high-rise home, restoring concierge staff and higher-standard fire assessments – these are all part of a £20million package of Fire Safety Plus measures being launched by Hammersmith & Fulham Counciltoday.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire last month, H&F Council has been reviewing fire safety across the borough. “The fire in Kensington has made one thing clear – just meeting minimum fire standards is not enough,” says Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan.
“The regulations are clearly not good enough so we will be going above and beyond what is required.
“We want our residents to know that we care deeply about their safety, we understand their concerns, and we will do everything it takes to keep them safe.
“All councils need to do more to make sure tenants’ and leaseholders’ homes are safe. We’ve got work to do here – that’s why we’ve developed an H&F Fire Safety Plus programme to make sure our properties meet higher standards. And we’ve set aside £20million to pay for it.
“Tenants and leaseholders have been working with us to shape our Fire Safety Plus package,” adds Cllr Cowan.
“We’ve been visiting estates and hearing residents’ concerns and suggestions for improving fire safety – and we’re acting on that with a massive programme of works.”
The H&F Fire Safety Plus package includes:
- Sprinklers in tower blocks – We are drawing up specifications for each block of six storeys or more where sprinklers would help improve safety.
- Replacement of concierge staff – We are replacing concierge staff at Edward Woods and Charecroft estates and will look at doing the same at other estates where concierge staff have been removed in the past.
- Better fire assessments – We have independent experts reviewing fire safety in all communal blocks. Current standards don’t require these assessments to check the outside of the building – cladding and external panels are not usually checked. So we’ve raised the standards in H&F and asked our expert fire reviewers to do much more detailed and thorough assessments than in the past. And we’ll do the work needed to improve fire safety.
- Safety checks for every council high-rise home – We are offering every council high-rise resident an individual safety check visit.
- Free replacement appliances – If, during a safety check, we find white goods (washing machines, fridges, tumble dryers etc) that fail PAT safety checks, we’ll replace these appliances with a brand new one – for free.
- New fire doors – If, during our safety visit, we find the external fire door to a tenants’ or leaseholders’ flat doesn’t meet safety standards, we will replace it with a 60-minute fire resistant door for free.
- Free heat detectors – During our visit, we’ll also install free heat detectors and check any detectors or alarms to make sure they’re working properly.
- Free plug adaptors – The London Fire Brigade advise residents not to use the cube-style plug adaptors. They say the linear adaptors with circuit breakers built in are safer. So we’re offering to exchange any tenant’s or leaseholder’s cube-style plug adaptors for a free, safer extension lead.
- A new resident advisory group – One of the main lessons from the Kensington fire is that councils should do more to listen to residents and act on their concerns. In addition to letters and the listening sessions on estates over recent weeks, we’re setting up a residents’ advisory group on fire safety, to work with us on our improvement plans.
- Fire safety plus booklets – We’re sending a detailed Fire Safety Plus booklet to all our tenants and leaseholders with details of the plan above and things people can do to keep themselves and their families safe.