Agenda item - Housing Fire Health & Safety Update

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Agenda item

Housing Fire Health & Safety Update

Report of the Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing (copy attached).

Decision:

(1)            That Housing & New Homes Committee agree our proposed approach in response to the latest Government advice on fire doors as outlined in paragraphs 3.13 & 3.14 of this report.

 

(2)            That Housing & New Homes Committee agree resident consultation on the adoption of a hybrid sprinkler scheme be offered to our residents at St James’s House and Essex Place as outlined in paragraph 3.21 and commencement of consultation with residents of additional blocks as outlined in paragraph 3.23.

 

(3)            That Housing & New Homes Committee note our ongoing joint work with ESFRS and actions following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

 

Minutes:

26.1   The Committee considered a report of the Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing which updated members on the continued joint work with East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) in response to housing fire health & safety matters arising following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The Committee were informed of developments and oversight of fire doors, consultation on installation of sprinkler systems and other actions taken, and developments post the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The report was presented by the Lead Consultant, Health & Safety, accompanied by Andrew Gausden, Head of Business Safety, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.  

 

26.2   Councillor Druitt thanked officers for the report and stated that he appreciated the level of consultation. He referred to paragraph 3.9 in relation to the risk assessment. This stated that “We have looked specifically at the potential impacts of the doors failing within 30 minutes and the assessments have confirmed that the risk remains low.”  Councillor Druitt asked what was the potential impact of the doors failing. Paragraph 3.14 referred to the proposal to identify suitable funds for the future replacement of Manse Masterdor and review the similar situation that had arisen with IG Doors. Councillor Druitt asked how much this would cost. Councillor Druitt referred to Paragraph 3.21 in relation to action being taken in relation to sprinkler installation. He considered this to be a reasonable compromise, and still took into account people’s wishes. However, he expressed concern that if a person refused sprinkler installation, it might adversely affect the household above and below that person. Were officers confident this was a safe compromise?

 

26.3   The Lead Consultant, Health & Safety explained that in relation to paragraph 3.9, a door failing prematurely was not necessarily a problem if other fire safety measures were in place and to the satisfaction of the Fire Service. Fire safety involved layers of precaution. The main principle was that if a door was closed it would contribute 15 to 20 minutes of protection regardless of the type of door, which was a good time for first fire service attendance and for any escape for neighbours. The door would be protecting the people immediately next to it and not the floors above or below. 

 

26.4   Councillor Druitt expressed concern that before the Grenfell disaster, it had not been anticipated that a fire would go through the block so quickly. The Lead Consultant, Health & Safety replied that safety work was carried out in the city after Grenfell. No combustible cladding was found. Grenfell was an unusual fire and a wakeup call. Officers had inspected all the housing stock in the city and were happy to give reassurance.     

 

26.5   Councillor Mears thanked officers for the report and thanked East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. Officers had come to the East Area Panel and given a presentation which had gone down well with the tenants and provided reassurance.

 

26.6   The Lead Consultant, Health & Safety confirmed that all fire safety risk assessments on tall blocks had been completed. This could be seen on the council website and was an ongoing process.

 

26.7   Councillor Hill referred to work carried out in the private sector. HMO licensing would help prevent fire risk.  The Lead Consultant, Health & Safety stated that there had been 128 surveys on blocks in the private sector. The last couple of blocks had just been completed. He stated that most fires took place in HMOs.

 

26.8   Councillor Bell remarked that it should not be forgotten that the council had been carrying out fire safety work before Grenfell, including the installation of a sprinkler system. He referred to paragraph 3.10 and asked why the supply of new IG Doors had been suspended. Councillor Bell referred to paragraph 7.2 and asked if East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service would match fund the council’s expenditure for sprinkler costs of both St James’ House and Essex Place.   Mr Gausden,confirmed that East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service had agreed to fulfil the match funding offer for sprinkler systems.

 

26.9   The Lead Consultant, Health & Safety informed members that because of the test failing of Manse Masterdoor, further testing was carried out on four other manufacturers which failed in a similar way.  Because this was part of a legal investigation those reports were not being released. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government advised local authorities that they suspend any further production until they came back with further recommendations as to what could be done to improve the standard of these doors. IG was not one of the doors that failed but it was part of the general industry pause that had come about. As a result the council were suspending the rolling programme of fire door replacement. However doors that became damaged were being replaced with timber fire doors as a temporary arrangement.

 

26.10  The Head of Housing Strategy, Property & Investment reported that the council had increased funding for fire safety measures following Grenfell. The council welcomed East Sussex Fire & Rescue’s funding for sprinkler systems and had also increased its funding. A budget report would be brought to committee on door costs in due course.

 

26.11  The Chair thanked officers and stressed that it was necessary to do the best for the residents in the city.

 

26.12  RESOLVED:-

 

(1)            That the Committee agree the proposed approach in response to the latest Government advice on fire doors as outlined in paragraphs 3.13 & 3.14 of the report.

 

(2)            That the Committee agree resident consultation on the adoption of a hybrid sprinkler scheme be offered to residents at St James’s House and Essex Place as outlined in paragraph 3.21 and commencement of consultation with residents of additional blocks as outlined in paragraph 3.23.

 

(3)            That Committee note the ongoing joint work with ESFRS and actions following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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