Following the Grenfell disaster, the London Fire Brigade has reissued three fire safety tools designed to help housing providers check that their buildings are safe.
Audit tool for councils and landlords
The first is an audit tool to help councils check that proper fire precautions are in place when blocks of flats are refurbished. Housing providers are legally responsible for making fire risk assessments.
London Fire Brigade Director of Operations Tom George said:
“I urge every housing provider to review their fire risk assessments against the audit tool.
“Don’t wait for the fire service to visit you, providing a fire risk assessment for your building is your legal responsibility and this audit tool will ensure you complete it thoroughly.
“The aim of this guidance is to support London housing providers with a check list of all the things they should be considering when checking their buildings have all the proper fire precautions in place. Following the Grenfell Tower fire, I want this advice to be available UK wide to support housing authorities and reassure tenants and so we are working with the National Fire Chief Council to do that.”
Help for Councillors
We’ve also reissued guides for Councillors to explain what they should look out for during estate visits, and questions they should put to housing managers and wardens.
Director of operations Tom George continued:
“Councillors also have a vital role to play in ensuring and promoting fire safety within their boroughs. It’s important that councillors don’t make assumptions that fire safety is being actively or effectively managed in purpose-built blocks of flats and maisonettes in their boroughs, whoever is responsible for that housing.”
The audit tool formed part of the Brigade’s Know the Plan campaign launched following a recommendation to increase public awareness of fire safety for people living in high rise buildings made by the Coroner following the inquest into the 2009 Lakanal tower block fire. Monday 3rd July marks the 8 years since the fire where 6 people died.
One of the key findings from the inquiry into the Lakanal house fire was that refurbishment of the building compromised the safety of the block and caused the fire to spread in unusual ways. The audit tools were developed to help those responsible for a building’s maintenance feel confident that refurbishment works are delivered in a way that maintains the fire safety integrity of the building.
The Housing Acts 1985 and 2004
The Housing Acts 1985 and 2004 make housing authorities specifically responsible for keeping the condition of all housing in their area, including their own housing stock, under review and for checking all aspects of health and safety, including fire safety. The legal duty on local housing authorities applies in respect of the whole building including the private living accommodation.