As part of a joint initiative, Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service are undertaking further work with the private sector to ensure that fire safety procedures currently in place at all city tower blocks are robust and fit for purpose.
In light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the council and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service are writing to owners of all private sector tower block buildings in the city to ask they take up the government’s offer of urgent and free cladding testing. This sits aside a recommendation that if not done so already, tower block owners should also immediately review the fire risk assessments in place at each building and pass on the results to the council as soon as possible. This joined up approach will provide a picture of the private sector tower block situation specifically in Leeds.
The council will also be moving forward with a range of work to ensure that fire procedures in place continue to be robust in tower blocks managed by the authority. A Stage 2 fire check has already been completed at each building, and an assessment made of all cladding. This review subsequently found that no Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding similar to that on Grenfell Tower was being used on any council tower block. While the government has said therefore that no further assessment of cladding needs to be undertaken, the council has indicated it will be scheduling further tests with contractors as an extra reassurance measure for tenants. These will be scheduled to fit alongside all other mandatory work requested by the government on other tower blocks across the country.
In regards to further reassurance work, a series of fire-safety and reassurance drop-in events at all council tower blocks will be held by the council from this week. On hand to answer any questions and concerns will include council housing officers and fire safety experts.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said:
“With the West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service we want to work closely with all private sector owners of tower blocks in the city to help ensure that residents can be confident the necessary fire prevention procedures are in place where they live. We know positive steps have already been taken by the private sector around this issue. This engagement work by us is an attempt to make sure that every owner of a tower block in the city knows about the support that is available around for example testing on cladding and what fire prevention steps to take.”
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for communities, said:
“It is completely understandable that people living in Leeds tower blocks managed by the public and private sector will have questions and concerns given the terrible events at Grenfell Tower. This is why we are now moving forward with our engagement programme with the private sector to help ensure that as a city, we have a joined up and cohesive approach. From a council perspective we have already undertaken a variety of fire prevention checks and are committed to speaking to and meeting tenants to offer further reassurance. This includes hand delivering information to our tenants, and from this week, moving forward with a series of drop-in events at council tower blocks. This will provide residents with the opportunity to not only receive a wealth of advice and information, but also pose any questions or concerns that they have to both housing officers and fire safety experts.”
Chris Kirby, West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Area Manager for Fire Safety, said:
“The Fire and Rescue Service supports local authorities, private building owners and tenants to help ensure the fire safety arrangements for those living in high rise accommodation. We do carry out individual home visits to discuss simple fire prevention measures and we also have lots of information about staying safe on our website.
“Anyone who has concerns about the safety of their building must take this up with the Responsible Person for the premises which is likely to be the managing agent or landlord. If residents have concerns about their own safety within their flat, then they can request a visit from West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service using the normal channels.”
The West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service website can be accessed at: www.westyorksfire.gov.uk
The West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service hotline is: Tel: 0800 587 4536.