In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy many of my constituents who reside in high rise tower blocks have contacted my office seeking reassurance over their own fire safety.
With a view to ascertaining the safety of these blocks I wrote to the Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council, all Housing Associations, and all Universities with student residences in Glasgow Kelvin to seek assurances about their fire safety measures, both in materials used and also with a view to their procedures should a fire occur. While investigations into the London fire are still ongoing, I feel it is crucial that as much support, reassurance and certainty is provided to concerned residents here in Glasgow Kelvin at this time.
I asked for a brief report on how many residential multi-story blocks are in Glasgow Kelvin, who the relevant property managers are, when they were constructed, and how many have been refurbished recently. I also asked if exterior cladding has been applied and whether it was the same or similar to the cladding used in the Grenfell Tower and whether or not it is fire resistant. I asked for more information about the fire safety measures and procedures currently in place including the number of blocks that currently have sprinklers, fire and smoke alarms, and fire doors; what fire action advice is given to residents in the event of the fire; and how often fire assessment checks are carried out. Finally, I’ve asked to be kept up to date on any reviews and assessments that are currently ongoing, including any recommendations for improvements, and I will post this information on my website when it is available.
While I have not received a response from GCC or the Universities at the time of publication I have heard from the majority of Housing Associations and can now provide you with a brief outline of what they have said.
Glasgow Housing Association and Cube (The Wheatley Group) own 82 multi-story blocks of nine stories or more. My colleagues and I have been assured that the cladding used is different from the cladding used in Grenfell, and all building regulations, designed to prevent the spread of fire, have been followed. Fire non-combustible materials have been used, and many blocks have been fitted with sprinklers in the bin store areas with a programme in place to complete this work. Daily patrols are carried out to identify any risks in multi-story blocks. They have assured me that further recommendations or advice following investigations in London will be implemented.
Glasgow West Housing Association are undertaking a review of the cladding and external wall insulation installed in their properties, and all materials meet minimum Scottish Building Standards Technical Regulations. This includes fire separation between flats and installation of non-combustible materials. There is ongoing safety awareness, including regular fire safety checks, concierge patrols, and investments in bin shoots.
Partick Housing Association own one multi-story block, Fortrose House in Fortrose Street, where there are 53 properties and 43 PHA tenants. It was refurbished by PHA in 2012, and the cladding used was phenolic foam insulation board, manufactured by Kingspan, which has a zero rating for inflammability. During recent renovations 43 flats had fire-rated flat entrance doors and smoke detectors fitted, along with an alarm system and fire doors in the common areas. There is no sprinkler system fitted, however a fire risk assessment is due on the 5th of July and all safety measures will be reviewed then. The insulation material in the over-cladding will also be verified by sampling and testing if necessary.
Maryhill Housing Association own 3 multi-story blocks of 21 floors, with 360 flats in total. They also own 12 multi-story blocks of 8 floors, with 336 flats in total. The blocks were constructed prior to stock transfer in 2011, and all blocks have fire resistant Recticel and Structherm cladding. All have fire resistant doors, hard wired smoke alarms and dry risers on each floor. Regular fire safety checks are undertaken, and the next fire audit will be carried out in July 2017.
Queens Cross Housing Association own 10 multi-story blocks in Dundasvale, Woodside (Cedar Court) and Westercommon. The cladding used in Cedar Court is called StoTherm Mineral K, and in Dundasvale Court it is PermaRock Mineral Fibre, both are non-combustible, have no cavities between the boards and the concrete walls, and meets the Scottish Building Regulations. The communal fire doors and ground floor exits are also currently being upgraded, and there will be fire escape balconies and new canopies at the ground floor level. A new internal working group has been set up following the tragedy and will look at all aspects of fire safety.
Fire Safety Advice
All housing associations in Glasgow Kelvin are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue service. In the event of a fire, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service advise multi-story residents to stay in place to allow controlled fire-fighting and evacuation, as deemed appropriate by them at the time. You can find more detailed advice about what to do in the event of a fire, via the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service leaflet here. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will continue to carry out additional operational assurance visits to high-rise buildings across Scotland, and since the Grenfell Tower fire, over 200 visits have been carried out by the SFRS to residents in high-rise buildings.
I have been informed by colleagues that SFRS are awaiting confirmation that no privately owned buildings have the cladding, and local authorities are completing these investigations as a matter of urgency.
As you may be aware, Scottish Building Standards are devolved, and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service works closely with local authorities and housing associations to ensure the safety of occupants in high rise buildings. Following the events at Grenfell, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities established a Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety. Last week this Working Group reported that all 32 local authorities across Scotland have confirmed that no council or housing association high rise domestic building have the type of cladding reported to have been used in the Grenfell tower – Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).
Please be assured that along with my colleagues in the Scottish Government, Westminster, and Glasgow City Council, I will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks and publicise more information as I have it.
Should you have specific concerns or questions about the block you live in, please contact your local housing team. These details can be found below:
Glasgow Housing Association or Cube HA – The Wheatley Group are in the process of setting up a helpline, so in the meantime contact 0800 479 7979.
Glasgow West Housing Association – Direct calls to the property services team on 0141 331 6652.
Partick Housing Association – Direct calls to 0141 357 3773 or visit their office at 10 Mansfield Street. More information is also on their website: http://www.partickha.org.uk/
Maryhill Housing Association – Direct calls to 0141 946 2466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Queens Cross Housing Association – Direct calls to 0141 945 3003 or email email@example.com
The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service are at available to offer more information and should you wish to arrange a fire safety assessment please contact them directly on 0800 0731 999.
If you have any difficulties do feel free to contact my office on 0141 339 7693 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org