Hounslow Homes Takes Action On Tower Blocks

Urgent Surveys Carried Out


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Hounslow Homes (HH) reviewed their approach to fire risk assessments earlier this year, moving from a generic (i.e. one size fits all approach) to individual risk assessments which takes on board the advice from the Fire Service and Central Government received since the tragedy in Southwark.

As part of this process a specialist fire risk assessment consultancy will be surveying all blocks of three storeys or more. This process began earlier this month and will conclude in Spring 2010. The Fire Service will continue to monitor Hounslow Homes' activity and approach to risk assessment.

Residents should be assured that HH is doing all it can to minimise the risks of a serious incident occurring in Hounslow.

Over the summer months since the fire in Camberwell it has:
  • Ensured the Health and Safety team and building surveyors have carried out urgent surveys to identify any obvious imminent risks and commissioned remedial works, including at Brentford Towers
  • Issued advice to residents who live in flats
  • Worked with the Fire Brigade to organise fire safety training sessions for residents
  • Initiated a regime of regular detailed estate inspections by caretakers and wardens with fire safety as their top priority

Leader of Hounslow Council Peter Thompson welcomed the briefing given at the 14 October Overview and Scrutiny meeting by the Fire and Rescue Service and safety assessors saying:  

“I remain saddened and disappointed by some of the scaremongering and stoking of unjustified fears that was itself provoked by inaccurate reporting from the BBC. The people of Hounslow deserve better! We are all grateful for the detailed investigations conducted by the Fire and Emergency Service, as well as the assessor reports and recommendations.  

"From the beginning, I made it clear that tough questions needed to be asked. I am pleased at the quick and detailed answers given that rebut the original claims about fire safety. I hope that all our tenants will now have an opportunity to read the truth about ongoing work by Hounslow Homes to protect them and their homes."

The BBC's investigations into Cornish House's fire hazards revealed:

  • No fire resistance between flats and lifts - during fire residents would be trapped as smoke and fire spread by lift shaft acting as a "chimney".
  • A padlock on one fire escape and no release bar on another. It took the expert several minutes to work out how to open it. Emergency lighting by the escape removed - residents could face opening it in darkness.
  • Holes bored through ceilings for cables wide enough to allow flame to pass, accelerating fire spread.
  • A section of floor smashed through following a water leak fire proofed with plastic bag
  • Fireman's entry switch broken, denying emergency services access to the block.

and Hounslow Homes detailed response can be read here



October 20, 2009