The devastating fire at Grenfell highrise flats in London earlier this week has shocked the country. A recent refurbishment – with flammable cladding – has been implicated in the disaster. Inevitably, fears have arisen about similar blocks, and similar refurbishments elsewhere. Leeds City Council has reassured its tenants that the cladding used here is fire retardant. It has also emphasized that the safety and wellbeing of tenants are paramount. But it is also determined that lessons will be learnt from this incident.
Leeds City Council manages 116 multi storey blocks across the city ranging in age and construction from five storeys to 24 storeys in height. 22 of the 116 have cladding.
The council has decided that an immediate review of all fire prevention measures in its high rise blocks must be undertaken to ensure they continue to be robust and fit for purpose.
As Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:
“It was heartbreaking to see the awful scenes in London earlier this week. My thoughts and sympathies are with all of those affected.
“Here in Leeds we take the safety of our tenants extremely seriously and have spent £12 million over the past three years on schemes to provide increased fire safety in our high rise flats. However, we are not complacent so, in order to reassure ourselves and all residents living in council tower blocks we will be undertaking a review of all fire prevention measures that are in place to ensure they continue to be as robust as possible.
“Some residents have raised concerns about the type of cladding used on seven multi-storey blocks which were recently re-clad. I would like to reassure them that the cladding used is fire retardant and is different to the cladding used on the Grenfell flats. All of the work undertaken by our contractor was independently inspected, and annual Fire Risk Assessments are completed by a certified independent company.
“We have an excellent working relationship with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and have signed up to a concordat that jointly looks at fire safety issues, which was set up to look at improving fire safety in our high rise stock across the city.
“Further more detailed inspections are also undertaken by our housing officers on a quarterly basis to every high rise block in the city as well as daily checks for obstructions or other risks in communal areas. This provides further assurance around any fire safety issues that are brought to our attention.
“It is also important that tenants remain vigilant and report any fire risks they may see and be alert to any dangers.”
Cllr Coupar added:
“We welcome the Government inquiry and believe it should aim to provide definitive guidance on fire safety within multi-storey blocks and address any resource implications which flow from it. We would also expect additional government support to enable local authorities to act swiftly on any recommendations arising from the inquest.”