Following Grenfell Tower: important information about fire safety
Published on 19th June 2017
Fire safety information from the council and Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service
Like everyone, our thoughts are with the people and families affected including the emergency services responding to the recent tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London. The safety of our residents and council tenants is of paramount importance to us.
We have spoken with Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service and they have confirmed that they will be undertaking ‘reassurance visits’ to all blocks of five storeys and above in Cheltenham, which will include three blocks managed by Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH). These blocks are a significantly different build to the Grenfell Tower high rise flats in London – they have a different type of cladding or are rendered.
All blocks that CBH manage have been risk assessed by an external, suitably qualified company. These assessments are looked at closely and inform future investment and ongoing maintenance decisions: for example, CBH has installed a total of 1,130 fire doors over the past 14 months.
We also work very closely with Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service and our approach to fire safety is in line with their recommendations.
If you are a council tenant and have a home that has electric heating we aim to test your smoke alarm when we visit you but this does not remove the need for all customers to regularly test your smoke alarms. All homes with gas heating receive an annual gas safety check which is carried out by our external contractor Liberty Gas, this includes checking smoke alarms.
With regard to council tenants with disabilities, we do our very best to identify such needs when customers first move in. If anything is identified we directly install or fit equipment as necessary.
With regards to tenants living in private rented accommodation, they should firstly speak to their landlord over any issues about their rented property, or if they are unclear about anything or still have safety concerns, they are advised to contact our private rented sector housing team for advice. The council proactively looks at high risk private rented housing, particularly houses in multiple occupation, through surveys and inspections. Action is taken to rectify any areas found to be substandard or subject to licensing requirements.
For all residents the following guidance received from Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, fire safety advice can be found in our Fire and Safety leaflet, key advice is:
- You should test your fire alarms weekly
- Keep your communal areas free from clutter and ensure fire doors are not left open
- Being familiar with the appropriate steps to follow in the event of a fire
- The Fire service recommends that if you discover a fire in your house get out as quickly as you can, and for people living in flats within blocks ‘stay put’ if your escape route is too dangerous to follow. However, if your flat becomes affected by smoke, try to leave at once, closing windows and doors behind you, and using the staircase (not the lift) if you need to leave the building. If you do have to leave your flat, and the communal areas are filling with smoke, keep as close to the floor as possible, where the air is fresher.
If you have concerns about fire safety please call us on 0800 408 0000 and our customer services team will provide reassurance and advice. If you would like us to we are happy to visit your home to discuss any concerns you have and if required we will change the batteries in your smoke alarms over the next month free of charge.
As we await the findings of this tragic event we are committed to ensuring that any lessons and advice is taken fully on board. This includes carrying out work to review our current policies and practice to ensure that they are as up to date and robust as possible.