Hounslow spending £196m on high rise fire safety

Hounslow spending £196m on high rise fire safety

THE LONDON council is spending the money over five years on urgent works at its 35 high rise and sheltered housing units, alongside ‘ongoing improvements’ on medium and low rise blocks.

Get West London reported on the council’s announcement of the funding, stating that a full council meeting saw deputy leader Lily Bath confirm it had ‘completed all urgent actions outlined’ in a plan set out last October, with medium term actions including removing combustible cladding from the Clements Court tower block ‘in hand’.

Other actions include replacing all fire and communal doors in all 35 blocks, with phase one of this programme seeing 1,240 doors across 18 of the blocks and three sheltered schemes being replaced. These were identified as the ‘highest priority’ due to defects both in door closures or smoke seals, with 1,050 or 85% replaced so far. The council expects that the rest of the first phase will be completed this year, with a second phase to follow.

That will see doors replaced in the other 17 blocks and 23 sheltered schemes, which ‘were not identified as defective but will still be upgraded due to their age’. In total, 96 of 102 recommendations set out by London Fire Brigade (LFB) have ‘already been implemented’, with new fire risk assessments having already been carried out on all high rise and sheltered blocks, and reports ‘made easier to read and more accessible for residents’.

At Brentford Towers, partnership work has been undertaken with residents to work on a refurbishment plan, while plans to reclad the complex’s six towers ‘were halted’ after Grenfell. Those have since been revised to focus on ‘major structural and concrete repairs and treatment works’ alongside full window and fire door replacements’ and other fire safety undertakings such as signage, lighting and estate improvements.

Contractor Engie began work on that site this May, and will work ‘block by block’ until January 2020, when the work is set to be completed, with the news outlet pointing out that the council is ‘actively engaging’ with a residents’ group and is ‘in communication’ with all tenants and leaseholders across the complex.

Other work completed includes compartmentation surveys on all high rises ‘where these were identified as a requirement’, assessing need for further works on fire walls and floors as well as: fire separation; protected corridors and stairs; fire detectors and alarms; storage and communal areas; installation of fire boxes; improvements to stairwell ventilation; and improvements to signage. At this point, all remedial actions identified in such surveys ‘have been carried out’.

Hounslow Council has also already responded to both tenant and leaseholder concerns over tenant management, and claims it has made ‘visible improvements in the cleanliness of estates, waste management and provision of safe and secure storage for bicycles, buggies/prams and mobility scooters’.

Mrs Bath said that ‘listening to residents is going to be a priority and the council has restructured its service so it can be more responsive. The council will also commit to any learning that arises from the Grenfell inquiry. The council is taking its local fire safety responsibility very seriously’. In turn, councillor Gerald McGregor said all members ‘should be vigilant when visiting buildings and tower blocks’, and speak to residents to help the council identify any potential fire safety issues.