Safety first!

Safety first!
Three-minute read

Nothing is more important to us than your safety and wellbeing. To give our customers added peace of mind, we have invested more than £2 million upgrading fire safety measures in our blocks over the last year. Here’s what we’ve done.

We are committed to making all of our customers’ homes as safe as possible. Over the last 12 months, we’ve carried out a major programme of improvements in our blocks of flats to make sure that they go well beyond the minimum fire safety standards.

We have spent around half a million pounds to install new multi-sensor fire alarms in blocks of flats that are two or three storeys high, including our independent living homes for older people. These detectors use the latest technology to give you the best protection. They have two different sensors, so they can detect either smoke or a rapid increase in heat – and sound the alarm as quickly as possible.

The alarms are wirelessly interconnected between each flat, so that everyone can be alerted quickly if there is a fire somewhere in the block. They also allow us to monitor the status of the alarm remotely, meaning we can make checks to keep people safe without having to access properties or disturb residents.

On top of this, we have invested £1.5 million on new safety measures for our two high-rise blocks on the Meriden in Garston – Abbey View and Munden View. The local landmarks have undergone extensive safety updates that go far beyond the regulated standard. As well as the multi-sensor alarms fitted in our other blocks, these include installing sprinklers in every property.

Although the existing fire safety systems were already compliant with all the relevant fire and building regulations, we decided to invest in further safety features to make these buildings even safer, keeping the wellbeing of customers at the forefront of our work.

The current legal standard outlines how each flat should have a fire alarm and effective compartmentation. With the new smoke detection systems and sprinklers, we have now gone one step further than the regulations demand, as we want residents to be confident in their safety and feel secure in their homes.

Before we started these works, we directly consulted residents of Abbey View and Munden View over the addition of the sprinkler systems, making sure that people had the chance to have their say.

We then worked in close partnership with the local fire services on these upgrades – they were able to assist in designing the most effective sprinkler system for the building in an emergency. The fire service also provided support to keep residents involved in the improvements, holding community events and training exercises to help people understand and be confident in their safety procedures.

Jim Moran, Station Commander at Watford Fire station, said: “Obviously we are very pleased sprinklers have been installed at Abbey and Munden. These sprinklers are a very effective way of suppressing a fire and retaining it to its room of origin. Sometimes residents are concerned about the possible disruption these installations may cause, but the installation was carried out very efficiently at these blocks.

“We have made a number of visits to these buildings and so far have taken part in two simulation training exercises to familiarise and test procedures with the teams from Garston, Watford, Borehamwood and Kings Langley fire stations. This has been greatly successful, with residents being understanding and supportive throughout.”

The entire installation took six months, with work beginning in February 2019 and the final system being installed in August. The subtle, fully integrated system put in place means every single room in each home is protected.

Ben Johnson, Director of Operations at Watford Community Housing said: “Keeping people safe is our top priority. We took the decision to invest in additional fire safety features in our blocks because we want to go above and beyond the minimum regulations.

“We’re really grateful to all of our customers for working with us so that we could install these new features – and we hope it gives them the reassurance to feel safe and comfortable in their homes.”