The review of fire safety in buildings across Calderdale is now complete and the recommendations will be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet on Monday 6 November.
Calderdale Council called for the local review after the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London. Organisations supporting the review include the Council, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Together Housing, which manages social housing in Calderdale.
Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said:
“The Grenfell Tower incident was devastating. Calderdale Council was one of the first local authorities in the country to launch a fire safety review to understand the implications of this tragic event at a local level. This thorough review has produced a strong set of recommendations which we can support, some of them directed at the Council and others at our partners. Together they are an important way for the Council and other organisations to ensure that local people are protected. We are totally committed to taking the actions proposed as part of the review.”
George Paterson, Director of Property Services at Together Housing Group, said:
“Together Housing has a large number of properties in Calderdale so our close working relationship with Calderdale Council has always been important and never more so following our joint review into fire safety.
“We have contributed extensively to the review and welcome its publication. We will continue to work with Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to ensure the safety of our tenants and their communities remains our top priority.”
Chris Kirby, Area Manager responsible for fire safety and protection, said:
“West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is working with local authorities to prioritise the safety of occupants. We have carried out a number of joint inspections to premises where aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding is fitted and agreed interim measures with building owners to maximise occupant safety.
“We will continue to work with all local authorities and housing providers across West Yorkshire to assist and support them in their enforcement capacity and we continue to engage in partnership meetings to provide all the support we can. We have suitable operational procedures for dealing with any fires in high rise blocks and our firefighters are well trained in dealing with fires in high rise buildings. The vast majority of incidents we attend in high rise blocks are minor fires that are contained to the room or flat where the fire started and are extinguished quickly.
“We have also issued fire prevention advice leaflets when visiting residents of high rise blocks and further details and key safety messages can be found on our website at www.westyorksfire.gov.uk(external link).”
Since the Grenfell tragedy in June 2017, actions taken in Calderdale include visiting key buildings across the borough to identify risk; working to remove cladding from the tower blocks in Mixenden; assessing evacuation procedures; and supporting residents, listening to their concerns and giving them the opportunity to comment on the review.
The premises involved include high-rise buildings, nursing and residential homes, schools and Council-owned buildings.
The review recommendations are split into two sets of actions – those which the Council and its partner organisations can take, and those for landlords and managing agents. The recommendations include:
- Ensuring that fire risk assessments are undertaken in line with regulatory requirements and by appropriately trained people.
- Ensuring that rigorous checks are carried out to make sure compartmentation in multi-storey and high-rise residential properties is in good order and unaffected by any building modifications or utility upgrades.
- Reviewing, updating and communicating evacuation plans for residents.
- Ensuring vulnerable residents living in multi-storey and high-rise accommodation have a personal emergency evacuation plan and are able to evacuate safely.
- Fitting sprinkler systems or alternative suppression systems in existing and new-build high-rise properties.
- Lobbying Government to provide funding to retrospectively fit sprinkler / alternative suppression systems in high-rise homes.
- Increasing residents’ awareness of fire prevention and the action to be taken in the event of a fire. This includes the Council discussing fire safety with the vulnerable residents it supports, including older people, young people, people with learning disabilities and people who smoke.
- Sharing good practice with wider sectors such as academies, other high-risk buildings and businesses.
- Appointing a Building Control Senior Surveyor at the Council to support the completion of fire safety risk assessments and provide training and advice in partnership with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
- Pressing the Government to act in line with the Home Affairs Committee recommendation, transferring asylum dispersal property inspection duties from the Home Office to the Council – along with the necessary resources to carry this out effectively.
The other recommendations can be found in the Cabinet report at www.calderdale.gov.uk
The report recommends that £500,000 should be allocated to enable the Council to action the recommendations. The Council will consider this as part of the budget proposals for 2018 / 2019 and will continue to press Government for support.
The report will be discussed at Calderdale Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 6 November 2017 at Halifax Town Hall from 6pm.