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Friday, 23 June 2017

Council acts to reassure residents over tower block fire safety


Cheshire East Council has moved swiftly with its partners in order to reassure people about the fire safety of high-rise blocks in the borough.

The authority has reviewed its own buildings stock and has contacted registered housing providers to seek their assurances that any of their high-rise properties meet strict fire regulations.

No properties have been identified as having the type of cladding that has been implicated in the Grenfell Tower blaze, in Kensington, London, on June 14, which led to at least 79 deaths.

Council officers are also working closely alongside fire brigade officers during site visits to high-rise properties in Cheshire East. No sites of concern have been identified so far.

Councillor Rachel Bailey, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “This council was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in west London, and joins the nation in grieving for those who lost their lives. We also keep those who were injured, made homeless or otherwise affected by the fire, firmly in our thoughts.

“The council has acted swiftly to review its own properties, in order to reassure our local residents about the safety measures in place for similar buildings in Cheshire East.” 

The council’s facilities management team has robust systems in place with regard to fire safety measures in council-owned buildings, which are reviewed regularly. Moreover, all council buildings have fire alarms fitted and fire drills are carried out regularly.

Only one of the council’s buildings is more than six storeys tall (18m) and none of the authority’s high-rise buildings has external cladding.

A briefing issued by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed that every high-rise building in Cheshire is regularly inspected for fire safety by the service’s prevention and protection teams, accompanied by operational firefighters. These teams have been visiting all 21 high-rise buildings identified in Cheshire in recent days, to provide extra reassurance to local people.

Councillor Bailey added: “The council has joint responsibilities with other agencies, such as the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, housing associations and owners/tenants, for ensuring that various measures and standards are in place to ensure all buildings in Cheshire East are built, occupied and maintained to the very latest safety standards.

“In 2013, following a notice of motion, this council resolved to lobby MPs to promote any change to the building regulations to consider including sprinkler systems within new or adapted buildings. Indeed, following the resolution, we installed sprinklers into our own Lincoln House property in Crewe and a programme of works is due to start in the next few weeks to install sprinklers into each unit at our homeless hostel in Macclesfield.

“I would add that this council supports the calls for a public enquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower and the events that led to that horrific blaze and would welcome any changes to the fire safety codes, law, guidance, advice or practice that would result in improvements in fire safety in such buildings.”

If you have concerns about the fire safety arrangements in your Cheshire East high-rise building, you should initially contact your housing provider. Further fire safety information can be found on the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service website – www.cheshirefire.gov.uk

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