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Review highlights fire safety measures at multi-storey flats

A meeting of Rugby Borough Council’s cabinet has heard that multi-storey blocks owned and maintained by the council do not have cladding of a type that would cause a fire risk.

Councillors heard that the council owns five blocks of high rise flats, each of ten storeys, with a total of 313 flats. The blocks were built in 1965 and are located at Rounds Gardens and Biart Place, with the blocks at Biart Place having no cladding beyond the concrete panels that they were built with. The blocks at Rounds Gardens had a brick and fibreglass skin added in 1985, but tests undertaken last week found that these are fire-proof and installed correctly, with no air gap.

The council’s cabinet requested an urgent update after the fire at Grenfell, and evidence provided in response shows that the blocks are designed to contain fires in compartments, and that subsequent work to individual flats and to the blocks as a whole has made sure that the compartments should still contain fires as designed. Improvements to fire doors and meter cabinets have introduced further fire safety protection. In addition, sprinklers have been installed in the bin storage areas and a comprehensive CCTV system monitors stairways and landings.

Tenants received up-to-date fire safety information as recently as February this year, while further copies have been provided on request. The latest copy of Tenant Times, the newsletter distributed free of charge to all council tenants, includes a special feature on fire safety and highlights the need for residents to keep communal areas, escape routes and fire exits clear.

Cllr Emma Crane, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for Communities and Homes, said: “Residents are rightly concerned about their flats following the disaster at Grenfell Tower, and we have moved quickly to reassure residents that the design and ongoing maintenance and regular checks of our tower blocks will keep our tenants safe.

“The evidence provided to councillors shows that the work we have done to the blocks has not affected the fire-proof compartments that are fundamental to their safety.

The findings of our initial review are reassuring but we are in the process of carrying out a completely new fire safety audit of our properties with the fire service to see if there’s more that we should do.”

Details of the report and its findings can be found on the council website with the agenda papers for the cabinet meeting held on 26 June 2017.

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