Nottingham to proceed with high rise fire safety plan
THE COUNCIL will ‘forge ahead’ with the plan despite the government ‘not providing financial support’ to install sprinklers alongside other fire safety measures.
Nottingham Post reported on the city council’s move to continue with the £8.4m fire safety programme for 13 high rise blocks of flats, with a report set to be presented to its executive board in the next week. While none of the buildings have cladding similar to that at Grenfell Tower, Nottingham City Homes, which manages the social housing for the council, reviewed its fire safety alongside Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), also consulting tenants.
The measures that came out of this include replacing intercom systems, installing sprinklers and installing PA systems, as well as altering existing fire alarm systems and ‘updating and improving’ existing fire procedures.
Councillor Jane Urquhart, portfolio holder for planning, housing and heritage at the council, said: ‘All our high-rise blocks have current fire risk assessments and are fully compliant with current regulations. However, following the Grenfell fire, we wanted to reassure tenants and ourselves that everything possible was being done to ensure buildings are safe. It’s hugely disappointing that the Government has backtracked on its commitment to provide support to councils on safety measures.
‘But this issue is so important that we simply have to go ahead with the recommended improvements as a priority, despite the impact this will have on other planned housing schemes which will now have to be reduced or delayed. Along with other councils up and down the country, we will continue to press Government ministers to be true to their word and come up with the financial support promised.’
Nick Murphy, chief executive of Nottingham City Homes, added: ‘The safety of our residents is our over-riding priority. Following the devastating Grenfell Tower tragedy, we believe the installation of sprinkler systems in all our high rise blocks is now necessary for tenants to feel as safe as they can be in their own homes.
‘We will continue to work closely with our tenants and arrange further block meetings so people can find out more about how sprinklers operate before we install them. We have also asked tenants to be vigilant and to keep corridors clear of anything which may be a hazard in an emergency.’
Wayne Bowcock, deputy chief fire officer at NFRS, commented: ‘Sprinklers are the most effective way to ensure that fires are suppressed or even extinguished before the fire service can arrive. They save lives and reduce injuries, protect firefighters who attend incidents and reduce the amount of damage to both property and the environment from fire.’
A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) responded: ‘Public safety is paramount which is why, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, we set up a comprehensive building safety programme to ensure a fire like this can never happen again. Building owners are responsible for ensuring their buildings are safe for residents and we expect building owners to fund fire safety measures.
‘But councils should contact DCLG as soon as possible to discuss their position if they have any concerns about funding fire safety works. Government will consider financial flexibilities for councils who need to undertake essential fire safety work to make a building safe.’