Hackney mayor disappointed over lack of fire door funding
PHILIP GLANVILLE voiced his ‘disappointment’ at the lack of central government funding for the borough’s ‘sweeping’ fire door replacement programme.
Recently, it was revealed that around 17,000 homes in the London borough will have front doors replaced with 30 minute fire doors. Hackney Council’s installation plan stated that this was expected to take three years, and would go before its cabinet. Replacement doors will be fitted ‘in order of priority’ based on fire risk assessments (FRAs) undertaken, with the majority of residents living in tower blocks six storeys or higher to get new front doors.
Those in blocks with 10 storeys or more will get doors first, and doors that need replacing include older units that don’t meet the 30 minute fire and smoke legislation laid out in building regulations, alongside a ‘small percentage’ of newer doors that ‘may need to be replaced or improved’. This is because the council ‘cannot be sure they provide that resistance’, and this is subject to ‘ongoing government testing’.
These newer doors make up around 10% of the total number, though the council does not have any Manse Masterdor units. In response to that discovery earlier this year in relation to doors used at Grenfell Tower, Hackney Council commissioned an accredited fire safety company to undertake fire resistance testing on its doors, which include two composite and one timber brand, with initial testing concluded in July.
The council is set to ‘scrutinise carefully’ the composite test results after they passed, while timber door tests are to be undertaken by the government in coming weeks. Hackney Citizen has reported on Mr Glanville’s ‘disappointment’ over the lack of central government funding for the programme, with just under £6m to be spent replacing the doors, ‘over and above’ the £20m that the council had set aside in its January budget.
In more detail, of the 3,097 doors to be replaced in phase one, 1,064 ‘should have been’ 30 minutes’ fire resistant, ‘but were not’. The estimated overall total of doors sold as 30 minute doors to be replaced is expected to be 1,200.
Mr Glanville said: ‘The council has now reviewed all its fire risk assessments across its property portfolio, which has resulted in 22,000 individual recommendations, which are being worked through on a risk-based approach. Potentially 17,000 doors need to be replaced, implementing Phase 1 of replacements early next year, and targeting those blocks which are 10 storeys or above. The cost of Phase 1 alone is expected to be in the region of £5.9m.
‘Despite the Grenfell rhetoric, there are no resources from central government to do this work. They only offered to fully fund councils who had to replace ACM cladding of the type that Grenfell had, and they’re not interested in funding the door-replacement work. The cost of safety works is significant, but obviously we’ll meet that cost here in Hackney. We’re really disappointed that the government has not matched up to its rhetoric.’
A council spokesperson added: ‘The council is planning to replace all doors across the borough that do not meet the current fire and smoke standard (known as FD30S). These will be prioritised according to risk and in consultation with London Fire Brigade, but, broadly, we will begin in blocks of 10 storeys and higher, then later, doors will be replaced in towers of six to nine storeys, and finally, buildings of five storeys and fewer.
‘However, residents should be assured that they are not in any immediate danger. We have been carrying out fire risk inspections of blocks and have been fitting self-closing fixtures to front doors where needed, among other safety work.’
Earlier this year, the council stated that 178 urgent issues in its blocks remained ‘outstanding’, though 94% of the 2,968 ‘high priority issues’ discovered from its FRAs undertaken last year ‘have been either resolved or are being worked on’, leaving around 6% or 178 issues. The council also stated that 83% of the 12,571 medium priority issues ‘are either resolved or are in the works’, alongside 79% of 5,318 low priority issues.
It stated earlier this year that ‘essential’ housing works ‘face years of delays’ without the government’s help on fire safety, having previously disclosed that ‘at least’ 40% of the high priority jobs picked up’ in FRAs ‘will breach’ a one month window recommended by experts, and it would take FRAs in house to save money.
Last year, the council – through Mr Glanville – released 1,800 FRAs online having previously apologised for providing incorrect fire safety information on the day of the Grenfell fire and ‘misleading’ the public. He had stated on 14 June that ‘all of our buildings have an up-to-date fire risk assessment (FRA)’, but after one assessment was found to be ‘out of date’ and another had not been undertaken for five years, he said ‘we apologise, it was not our intention to mislead anyone’.
FRAs ordered found there were nearly 3,000 jobs to be undertaken, and in a report published following the review, 1,823 FRAs were carried out that found 21,743 issues, with 2,968 of these deemed ‘high priority’ and 11 ‘critical’ that have been fixed.