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Council advised to spend £500,000 on fire safety improvements

31 October 2017

A REVIEW of fire safety in buildings across Calderdale has recommended the council should allocate £500,000 for remedial work.

Calderdale Council called for the local review after the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London. Organisations supporting the review include the Council, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Together Housing, which manages social housing in Calderdale.

Since the Grenfell tragedy in June, actions taken in Calderdale include visiting key buildings across the borough to identify risk; working to remove cladding from the tower blocks in Mixenden; assessing evacuation procedures; and supporting residents, listening to their concerns and giving them the opportunity to comment on the review.

The premises involved include high-rise buildings, nursing and residential homes, schools and Council-owned buildings. The review recommendations are split into two sets of actions – those that the Council and its partner organisations can take, and those for landlords and managing agents. The recommendations include:

  • Ensuring that fire risk assessments are undertaken in line with regulatory requirements and by appropriately trained people;
  • Ensuring that rigorous checks are carried out to make sure compartmentation in multi-storey and high-rise residential properties is in good order and unaffected by any building modifications or utility upgrades;
  • Reviewing, updating and communicating evacuation plans for residents;
  • Ensuring vulnerable residents living in multi-storey and high-rise accommodation have a personal emergency evacuation plan and are able to evacuate safely;
  • Fitting sprinkler systems or alternative suppression systems in existing and new-build high-rise properties;
  • Lobbying Government to provide funding to retrospectively fit sprinkler / alternative suppression systems in high-rise homes;
  • Increasing residents’ awareness of fire prevention and the action to be taken in the event of a fire. This includes the Council discussing fire safety with the vulnerable residents it supports, including older people, young people, people with learning disabilities and people who smoke;
  • Sharing good practice with wider sectors such as academies, other high-risk buildings and businesses;
  • Appointing a Building Control Senior Surveyor at the Council to support the completion of fire safety risk assessments and provide training and advice in partnership with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service; and
  • Pressing the Government to act in line with the Home Affairs Committee recommendation, transferring asylum dispersal property inspection duties from the Home Office to the Council – along with the necessary resources to carry this out effectively.

The other recommendations can be found in the Cabinet report at www.calderdale.gov.uk

The report recommends that £500,000 should be allocated to enable the Council to action the recommendations. The Council will consider this as part of the budget proposals for 2018 / 2019 and will continue to press Government for support. Calderdale Council leader councillor Tim Swift said: “The Grenfell Tower incident was devastating. Calderdale Council was one of the first local authorities in the country to launch a fire safety review to understand the implications of this tragic event at a local level. 

“This thorough review has produced a strong set of recommendations which we can support, some of them directed at the Council and others at our partners. Together they are an important way for the Council and other organisations to ensure that local people are protected. We are totally committed to taking the actions proposed as part of the review.”

The report will be discussed at Calderdale Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 6 November 2017 at Halifax Town Hall from 6pm.