Fire safety in high-rise flats
Since the terrible fire at Grenfell House in Kensington on 14 June 2017 there has been considerable concern expressed nationally about fire safety and cladding of high-rise blocks of flats.
We have written to our residents living in high-rise council flats to inform and reassure tenants and leaseholders about their homes.
We own six blocks that are six storeys or above in height. All fire risk assessments are up to date, but in the interests of safety we carried out new ones as a matter of urgency. We also undertook additional tests to identify the specific materials in any cladding panels. None of these buildings have external aluminium composite cladding as used on Grenfell Tower.
Concern has been expressed in the media about the type of cladding that has been used on high-rise refurbishments, in particular, where the insulation used is not fire resistant. This is not the case with our high-rise blocks. They have been refurbished with modern cladding and the materials used are fire resistant.
We also instructed our contractor to carry out additional fire inspections to individual flats within these buildings to ensure that, in the event of a fire, it is contained and does not move on to the next flat.
We have been working with the Fire and Rescue Service to confirm safety advice, and this has been passed on to residents.
For more information, please read our High-rise fire safety - frequently asked questions (PDF 242KB)
The safety and well-being of tenants is our primary concern, so we carried out fire risk assessments across all of our flats. This included additional testing of the section of cladding on one of our low-rise blocks.
On 28 June 2017 we were informed that as with all other aluminium composite material cladding samples sent for testing nationally, the cladding on Able House has not passed the safety test. Able House is a low-rise block of 14 flats in Hemel Hempstead.
On receiving the test results, we immediately contacted Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service who carried out a comprehensive inspection of the building.
Following this inspection, the Fire and Rescue Service has classed Able House as low risk. This is due to the fire safety measures in place, as well as the limited nature of the cladding, and it is safe for residents to stay in their homes.
High-rise buildings in other local authorities that have been evacuated also had additional fire safety failures and were evacuated under the recommendation of the fire service. This is not the case with Able House.
Nevertheless, we know that residents will be worried and that is why we have decided to remove the cladding from Able House and cover with render.
We are advising residents to continue to follow our safety advice, which includes keeping to the clear landings policy, not using naked flames on balconies (for example, barbecues) and keeping fire doors closed.