Trafford Housing Trust

Fire Safety - all of your questions answered

28 June 2017

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London, we understand residents of our tower blocks have concerns and have questions. So we are posting all the questions from residents along with our responses on this webpage for everyone to view and share.

Q: What is your current fire safety advice for residents living in towers?

A: After taking advice from the Fire Service we have changed our policy from ‘stay put’ to an evacuation procedure. So, with immediate effect and until we advise you otherwise, please note the following important information:

  • We are introducing Wardens in each of our tower blocks.  In the unlikely event of a fire, they will sound a horn and commence the evacuation of the building.
  • To keep everyone safe as they move down the stairwell, and to prioritise the safety of those customers who are closest to the fire, the Warden will evacuate the building in the following order:

The floor where the fire is;

The floors directly above and below the fire;

All other floors.

  • Over the next 24 hours a map will be posted on the notice board in the main entrance that will show you where the Muster Points are outside of the building.  It is very important that you go directly to the Muster Point in order that we and the emergency services can check that you have safely left the building.  It is also important that you let the emergency services know immediately if someone has not been able to leave your property.
  • If for any reason the Warden is not present, please evacuate the building as quickly and safely as you can.  Remember, do not use the lifts.

Q: The cladding you had tested has failed the safety test. What are you now doing? Are we still safe?

A: The cladding system we currently have on five of our eight tower blocks was previously specified as being safe and compliant with building legislation, however as with every other cladding system tested so far, our cladding has not passed the test.

We are now working very closely with the Fire Service to answer two important questions:

  • In addition to the actions we’ve already taken, what else do they recommend we do to make sure our customers are safe in their homes?
  • Of the options available to manage the cladding issue, which is best for each of our blocks?

The Fire Service are satisfied that what we currently have in place is safe. In addition to this, over the coming weeks, we are completing ‘level 4’ Fire Risk Assessments – these are the highest possible level of detail.  The results of these Assessments, alongside the advice of the Fire Services, will inform the decisions we make about what to do with the cladding.  As soon as the way forward is finalised, we will be in touch to let you know.

In the meantime, please remember our new safety advice which is to evacuate the building as quickly and safely as you can in the event of a fire.

If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your local Housing Officer or give us a call on 0300 777 7777.

Q: Can we have meetings for tower block residents to get answers to questions they have following the Grenfell Tower tragedy?

A: We are making sure there are more Managers on site in the Tower Blocks over the next few weeks who are there specifically to discuss people’s concerns and provide reassurance about steps we are taking to further ensure the safety of residents. Please do speak to them and our Caretakers and Housing Officers. We will continue to post all questions and answers on our website.   

Q: Stretford House & Circle Court have had money ringfenced for external repairs such as windows and cladding. The government should be providing us with money with immediate effect.

A: With regards to external works, we will now be assessing the release of further information on the fire in London, to ensure any learning is applied to future works.

Q: Residents have reported repairs to communal areas but we don't seem to be getting them done, many of which were reported long before the tragedy of Grenfell Towers? Resident’s anxieties have been magnified by 100 percent considering the fire in London. Can you reassure all of us work that is reported should be fixed around the clock so we know we are in safer environments in our homes?

A: Following the tragic events in London we deployed our technical surveyors to carry out inspections of the communal areas in all our tower blocks to identify any outstanding repairs or issues. The repairs that were identified are now being processed as quickly as possible. Please be assured though that the additional inspections did not show anything to be concerned about with regards to tenant safety.

Q:  Why was a meeting held with Kate Green MP and no tenants were present. Why was it not advertised on our noticeboard as a tenant like many would like to have attended?

A: The meeting held last week was requested by a resident and Kate Green and so was quickly organised. Please do raise any concerns with our Managers, Caretakers and Housing Officers.

Q: There has been a lot of concern over the last few years due to fires caused by electric equipment, can I ask do you have sprinkler systems and fire alarms installed in the tower blocks and if so how often are they tested?

A: There is currently no sprinkler system installed in the high rise towers. The Trust is commissioning new and more detailed Fire Risk Assessments to be carried out on all of the high rise towers and will be monitoring the outcomes of the investigation and public enquiry following the tragedy in London.  All of the recommendations will then be immediately assessed. For example, if the expert advice recommends that sprinklers should be installed then the Trust will look to install one as soon as is practicably possible

Q: Fire engines found it difficult to access Grenfell Tower due to bollards and locked gates, how accessible are your buildings in an emergency?

A:  Although all of our Fire Risk Assessments are up to date and compliant we are now double checking all accessibility arrangements. We are commissioning an access audit on all our eight tower blocks to ensure that the appropriate emergency response vehicles can access all areas of the buildings.

Q: The fire fighters can only reach up to ten stories with the fire hoses, is there a water pipe going through the building that the firemen can attach their hoses too as I believe they have in hotels? 

A: All of our tower blocks have ‘dry risers’. A dry riser is basically an empty pipe that can be externally connected to a pressurized water source by fire fighters. It then can get water to all levels of a tower in order to fight any fire. All of our dry risers have been double checked and are fully operational.

Q:  Are there any fire extinguishers?

A: Fire extinguishers are supplied in areas of high risk such as lift motor rooms and boiler rooms; the common parts of buildings don’t have fire extinguishers. These are covered by dry risers.

Q: When fire safety regulations change, what does the Trust do to enact the change and inform residents and leaseholders?

A: The Trust carries out Fire Risk Assessments annually which picks up changes in regulations and applies them to the Trusts buildings. As a precaution we are carrying out new ‘level 4’ FRAs – the most detailed type.

Following these Assessments, an action plan is put in place to progress any recommendations that have been identified. Our policy is always to be transparent and to keep customers fully informed so all of this information will be put on our website and on notice boards and the original full documentation available on request.

If you have any questions or concerns that are not addressed here please contact our Customer Hub on 0300 777 7777.

 

 

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