Slough tower under fire watch

Slough tower under fire watch

THE NOVA House high rise in the town is being watched ‘round-the-clock’ by private firefighters as it was ‘deemed unsafe’ due to its cladding.

Sky News reported on the tower, which failed the government’s safety tests on cladding, before further fire service investigations ‘revealed other hazards inside’, with Slough Borough Council spending over £40,000 to hire a fire appliance ‘to be on standby outside’. In turn, it is paying around £2,000 per day for fireighters ‘to watch over’ the privately owned block.

Despite the council not owning the building, it made the decision to spend taxpayer money on the ‘private fire engine’ to prevent a fire from happening, and is working with freeholder Ground Rent Estates 5 Ltd to ‘take over the building’. The company supported the council’s move as it ‘was better equipped to resolve the issues’, and had been working with authorities ‘to ensure all fire safety issues are addressed’, bringing in fire wardens for constant surveillance as well.

The news organisation added that while the cladding failed tests, the rockwool insulation ‘is accepted as having good fire resistant qualities’, with councillors denying the building is unsafe for residents and ‘working on the advice of fire experts’. However, some residents ‘fear lives are still at risk’, with one, Peter Bothwell, claiming residents ‘need to be rehoused until safety works are completed’.

He stated that ‘we saw what happened to Grenfell and how quickly that building went up. Now that building was a lot higher than this building, but all that means is that this building will go up even quicker’.

Sohail Munawar, leader of Slough Borough Council, stated: ‘We have been concerned about the fire safety at Nova House since the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower in June and have been closely monitoring the situation. Unfortunately it has now got to the stage where we feel, to protect the safety of the residents now and in the longer-term, we have to intervene directly and take over responsibility for Nova House.

‘We know there is a great deal of work that needs to be done to Nova House to bring it up to the correct safety standards and we do not believe the current freeholder has the capacity to do what is needed for the residents.’