Latest Public Sector News

26.09.17

Almost all council landlords silent after Grenfell tragedy

Fire Door Safety Week has kicked off with the release of information revealing that since the Grenfell disaster only 10% of social landlords have been in direct contact with their tenants to discuss fire safety measures.

In total, 40% of renters have said that their escape routes are not clear, and 39% reported that they had seen fire doors propped open in a clear health and safety breach.

There were widespread reports of damage to fire doors, and of those who reported a fire safety concern to their landlords, almost a quarter said that they waited weeks for a response.

Worryingly, over half of the tenants questioned said that they did not feel prepared for what they should do in the event of a fire, while almost a quarter of those living in a rented apartment felt understandably anxious since the tragic fire – which killed an estimated 80 people, ripped through the tower block and highlighted the fire safety concerns within social housing.

Paul Fuller CBE, chief fire officer of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and chairman of the Fire Sector Federation, said: “It is simple. Proper fire doors save lives, but only if they are correctly made and installed, and certainly not if they are wedged open or in disrepair.

“Too often our officers walk into a building and see fire doors in an appalling state. We do what we can to advise and enforce the responsibilities of a building owner, but it is time for the Responsible Person to really step up.”

Since the tragedy took place in London, government-appointed investigators have discovered that just eight council housing buildings that are over 18 metres tall have passed key fire safety tests. In total, 165 tower blocks were deemed not to comply with proper regulations.

Some local authorities, such as Salford and Southwark, have earmarked millions of pounds’ worth of investment to safeguard their tower blocks considered to be at risk, but many have complained that there are insufficient funds available to carry out proper checks and install necessary safety measures.

(Top image c. Victoria Jones PA Wire)

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