Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
February 22, 2018

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High-rise residents denying access for fire-safety improvements might be taken to court

High-rise residents in an Aberdeen apartment block have denied access to council workers seeking entry in order to make fire safety improvements.

And Aberdeen City Council has suggested that legal action could be launched if residents continue to block access.

Checks conducted on Morven Court in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy discovered defects in the cavity barrier near a kitchen ventilation duct that could accelerate the spread of fire. “This would have potentially allowed fire to spread through to the next cavity, one storey above, in the event of a fire,” said a new report given to the local authority’s audit, risk and scrutiny committee.

“Residents in Morven, Brimmond and Grampian courts were contacted by letter to advise of this issue due to the similarity in construction design of all three buildings, advising of the defective cavity barriers and requesting access to improve the installation.”

Aberdeen City Council, which has completed 90% of the repair work, has indicated that it might have to resort to legal action if residents who account for the other 10% continue to refuse access. The report says that “enforcement action could be taken, where access continues to be refused, so as to provide certainty that this potential risk has been eliminated.”

Vicki Gray, a resident at Morven Court for nine years, told the Aberdeen Evening Express: “I think people who are doing this (refusing permission) are putting the rest of us in danger. I live here with my three children and they are putting everyone at risk.

“When the officers came it was before Christmas and they came in to check my kitchen vent. They weren’t even in my home for more than an hour, so it’s not like it takes a lot of time.”

The report also revealed that mains-powered smoke detectors were fitted in all but 47 of the 3,853 flats within high rise blocks owned by the council.

The council is exploring whether the occupants of the 47 flats who refused the offer of new smoke detectors are legally obliged to accept their installation: “Officers will continue to revisit these addresses every three years to complete upgrades, and are investigating whether we have the right to gain entry within the lease agreements,” said the report.

Read more on the Aberdeen Evening Express.

Faulty white goods cause 60 fires a week

Faulty washing machines and tumble dryers are the worst offenders among household appliances that cause more than 60 fires in UK homes every week, according to a study conducted by Which? in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

They caused 35% of the fires over a two-year period. Fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers accounted for 10% of the fires, as did cookers and ovens, as well as dishwashers.

The Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 71 people, was traced to a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer.

‘It’s shocking that there are more than 60 house fires every week in the UK because of faulty appliances,” said Which? CEO Peter Vicary-Smith. “People will be undoubtedly worried to hear our findings that some of the most common household appliances represent a disproportionate risk of causing a fire due to being faulty.

“The government must now publish an action plan for the Office of Product Safety and Standards in the next 90 days, setting out what it will do to keep dangerous products out of consumers’ homes and tackle Britain’s broken product safety regime.”

Which? has also urged the government to do something about the approximately one million faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers still in UK homes. Whirlpool revealed in late 2015 that two types of driers – condensed and vented dryers made by Indesit between April 2004 and September 2015 – had allowed dangerous levels of lint to build up against the heating element in tests.

The government has set up a new office, which began operating in January, dedicated to product safety and standards.

Labour pledges to install sprinklers in all new school buildings

Labour has pledged to install sprinkler systems in all new school buildings, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has announced.

Asbestos and flammable cladding would also be removed from existing sites as part of a £14bn programme of capital investment they would introduce if they got into power.

The proportion of new schools being built with sprinklers had halved to 35% since 2010, an investigation undertaken by Schools Week in June 2017 found.

Of 260 schools rebuilt as part of phase one of the government’s priority school building programme, just 74 have had sprinklers fitted or are scheduled to have them installed, figures released this month revealed.

The government has been unable to confirm how many of its flagship free schools have sprinkler systems installed.

A number of schools failed new cladding safety checks committed in the wake of Grenfell.

One school that was almost completely destroyed in a 2016 fire is being rebuilt without sprinklers because the original building did not have them.

Housing complex with £700,000 flats has surfeit of fire safety problems

Numerous fire safety deficiencies have been found during an inspection of a new housing complex fitted with Grenfell-style cladding.

Defective fire doors, missing fire-stopping, dangerous fire escapes and holes in plasterboard designed to prevent the spread of flames and smoke were among the issues uncovered during the inspection ofNew Capital Quay in Greenwich, south-east London.

Two-bedroom apartments at New Capital Quay, which is home to about 2,000 people, have sold for as much as £700,000 each.

Built by one of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, Galliard Homes, the complex was found to have non-compliant cladding during an inspection undertaken soon after the Grenfell fire.

Another deficiency notice from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) identified 16 fire safety issues on 25 January, including the absence of an evacuation plan for vulnerable and elderly residents, an ineffective maintenance regime, a broken firefighting lift and a broken fire hydrant outside one of the blocks.

One resident told the Guardian that an 87-year-old living on the 10th floor “fully expects to die in the flat if there is a fire”.

Galliard issued a strong defence of fire safety measures at the complex, telling the Guardian: “Totally unlike Grenfell, NCQ was built and still has full and proper fire precautions with fire doors, fire-stopping, fire alarms, smoke-extract systems and no gas in apartments. The block at NCQ which has the most cladding has a full sprinkler system throughout.”

Read more on the Guardian


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1 Comment on "High-rise residents denying access for fire-safety improvements might be taken to court"

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Ian Malone
Presumably every owner of a washing machine or tumble dryer checks it regular , has it cleaned and serviced at the manufactures direction . All the electrical devices come with warranties and guarantees as well as written instructions . I have meet plenty of people who have time to check how much their home has gone up in value each month, but none that consider cleaning behind the fridge might be a good idear. As for councils believing they should have the right to legal entry , they are the framework that underpins planning and development. That charges to oversee… Read more »