Fire safety at our high-rises - updates
Testing of materials on the high-rise blocks
In the days after the Grenfell Tower fire, the government requested that all high rise blocks with any areas of cladding sent samples of the material for testing. Our high rise blocks do not include a full cladding system - they are constructed from concrete and brick. However, the lower part of the windows do include a blue panel material which appears similar to cladding, so we sent samples for testing, as per the request of the government.
The Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Watford were the organisation ordered to carry out the research, as they run the British Board of Agreement scheme which tests building materials to make sure they are compliant with building regulations. The BRE testing revealed that the blue panel material is Lamina External Cladding Panel, distributed by a company called Marley Eternit Ltd. In 2006, Marley Eternit Ltd sent the Lamina panels for independent testing and the material was confirmed to meet the industry standard 'Class O' requirements in relation to fire reaction.
As such, we are pleased to report that the blue panel material on the lower part of the windows of our high rises is not only completely different to that used on Grenfell Tower, but that it also meets all necessary standards of safety.
Future fire safety
Whilst we are confident that our buildings are up to standard, we're always looking for ways to be safer. We're closely monitoring the national response to the Grenfell Tower fire, including awaiting any government legislation which may enforce changes to the way high-rises are prepared for fire. However, we are also reviewing our fire safety measures and will update you on any further safety measures we plan to put in place.
The safety of our residents is our top priority, and we'd like to assure you that we will be considering what is best for your safety in every decision we make.
Key fire safety advice
- Stay put - If a fire breaks out in your flat, leave the property by the front door and close it behind you to contain the fire in that area. Exit the block, then call 999 to report the fire and ask for the fire service. Your neighbours should remaind in theri flats with their front door closed. Should a fire break out in one of the other flats in your block, keep your front door closed and stay in your flat. When the fire serivce arrives on site they will assess the fire and, if necessary, they will advis whether to partially of completely evacuate the block. The lifts must not be used by residents in the event of a fire.
- Test your smoke alarms - We encourage tenants to test their smoke alarms regularly. You can do this by pressing the 'test' button, holding for three seconds and waiting for an alarm to sound. If there is no sound, or if the sound is weak, please replace the batteries in the first instance. If your smoke alarm appears to be damaged or not functioning, or if you are physically unable to test your alarm or replace the batteries, please get in touch with our customer service team.
- Corridors - Keep corridors clear at all times. There should be no items in the corridors, including door mats, shopping trolleys, children's toys, pushchairs and footwear etc.
- Parking - Cars are not permitted to park in the hatched areas or turning circles at the front of the blocks. This prevents emergency vehicles accessing the block in the case of fire or medical emergencies. We are monitoring this closely and will take action where necessary.
- Cigarettes - Do not throw cigarettes from the balcony. Please dispose of them responsibly and ensure they are completely extinguished. This was the cause of both of the most recent fires in the high-rises.
- Rubbish - Ensure all rubbish is disposed of correctly. Fly-tipping large objects and general waste is an offence and can be the cause of fires. The risk is greater if cigarettes are also being thrown from the balconies.
- Riser cupboards - These are the cupboards at the end of the corridors outside the flats where the electricity meters are located. The Fire Risk Assessment covers an inspection of all riser cupboards in the communal areas. It is important that these cupboards are securely locked, free of any stored materials, and have fire barriers to prevent the spread of fire between floors.
If you have any concerns, questions, requests or anything to report, please get in touch with our customer service team by calling 0800 2182247.