We were all deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic fire at Grenfell Flats and our thoughts are with all those affected. Understandably, the tragedy has raised a number of concerns about fire safety in flats and other buildings in our district, so I want to provide reassurance about what the council and KNH, our housing management company, are doing to ensure the continued safety of tenants and residents, and how we are working with other building owners so we understand the whole picture.
We can confirm that all external wall insulation used in Kirklees flats is not the same cladding that was used on the tower block in London. Based on all the information we have about the materials used, and previous adherence to the Building Regulations, we have no reason to believe that the cladding fitted to any of our properties is putting any of our tenants or residents at greater risk of fire; however, we are seeking expert advice to see what further checks are required so that we can provide absolute assurance on this.
All council-owned high rise and six-storey blocks of flats, along with retirement living schemes, have fire risk assessments in place. Any actions recommended are carried out by KNH as a matter of urgency. In addition, KNH carry out daily fire safety inspections and regular housekeeping checks to make sure that all lifts, stairs and communal areas are clean and clear of any rubbish. KNH staff are in the buildings every day and will be holding local drop-in sessions over the next two week to make sure tenants and residents are able to ask questions.
In terms of fire safety measures in the flats, while there are currently no sprinklers in high-rise flats, this will be reviewed. As an added precaution, KNH is currently checking all communal and internal fire doors to make sure they are free from any defects. Fire doors are very effective in blocking smoke and fire and they enable the fire service recommended policy, for tenants to remain in their home in the event of a fire outside, to be fully effective in protecting residents.
We also operate a ‘stay put’ policy in the high rise and six-storey blocks as previously advised; however, this ‘stay put’ policy will also be reviewed, in consultation with the West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.
We are also working with partners including the health service, the university and social landlords to ensure they carry out the relevant checks on their buildings.
Finally, we are republishing our fire safety advice online. It is vital that all residents, no matter where they live, practice good fire safety in their homes. If you need more information about this, please follow this link http://www.knh.org.uk/knhdocs/Doc.aspx?Appref=qkrf2f&FileRef=uyscvd or KNH can send tenants a leaflet – call 01484 414886 to ask for a copy.