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Barnet Council to invest in additional fire safety measures at tower blocks

In response to last week’s tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, Barnet Council is to invest in upgrades to fire safety systems in high-rise tower blocks across the borough.

The Council’s Housing Committee on Monday, 26 June will consider proposals to invest in measures to ensure that all of the borough’s 24 high-rise tower blocks meet best practice, including consideration of sprinkler systems, improved fire and smoke alarm systems and other measures.

The Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “All Barnet-owned blocks have up to date Fire Risk Assessments, and comply with fire safety legislation. However, the unprecedented horror of the Grenfell Tower fire has forced everyone to rethink their approach to fire safety in high-rise accommodation.

“To ensure such a tragedy is not repeated in Barnet, we have a responsibility to our community to make sure that safety systems are of the highest standard - including investigating whether sprinklers would be appropriate in our high-rise tower blocks. We will be calling on our Housing Committee to oversee a programme of investment, based on advice from the London Fire Brigade, to provide added safety and reassurance to our residents. If sprinklers are needed, they will be fitted.”

Although the cause of the fire at Grenfell Tower has yet to be established, Barnet Homes, the council-owned company that manages the housing stock, is undertaking an urgent review of cladded housing blocks of five storeys or more within the borough.

There are ten blocks in total, three of which were reclad in 2012: Granville Point, Harpenmead Point and Templemead point. These three blocks, in Granville Road NW2, were inspected yesterday (Monday, 19 June).

Following this inspection, it has been established that the cladding system at Granville Road is different to what media reports suggest was used at Grenfell Tower. While it contains similar rain screen panels to those reportedly used at Grenfell Tower, crucially it uses different insulation materials, which are made from a non-combustible mineral fibre material. In addition, fire stops have been installed at each floor level and around each window. The fire stops are also made of a non-combustible material. In line with the Government’s advice to councils, samples from the investigation will be submitted to DCLG.

The remaining seven cladded blocks have different cladding systems. As a precautionary measure, these are also being inspected. Updated Fire Risk Assessments of these blocks have been completed and no issues identified.

Barnet Homes will be writing a letter of reassurance to all residents. They will keep them updated with updates on specific actions taken, once the results of the inspections have been fed back.

 

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