The H&F response to the Grenfell Tower fire
Update: Thursday 20 July 2017
In response to the Grenfell fire tragedy an extended range of activities has been made available for children and families over the summer. A number of events will also include counselling support.
Update: Tuesday 18 July 2017
H&F Council announces £20million Fire Safety Plus package
Following the Grenfell Tower fire last month, H&F Council has been reviewing fire safety across the borough.
Update: Friday 30 June 2017
Cladding passes safety checks
Specialist independent tests on the cladding at Edward Woods Estate have been completed and all three blocks have passed. While no further action is needed in relation to the cladding, we are still working with our advisors on other things we can do to make Edward Woods Estate as safe as it can possibly be.
H&F Council has no other blocks with cladding.
Letters to residents
- Letter to residents of Edward Woods - New date for fire safety meeting 4 July - 30 June (pdf 66KB)
- Letter to residents of Charecroft estate - Fire safety at Charecroft - what we're doing - 29 June (pdf 97KB)
- Letter to residents in all tower blocks - What we're doing to make you safe - 29 June (pdf 300KB)
- Letter to residents of Edward Woods and Charecroft estates - 17 June (pdf 132KB)
Window panels to be replaced at Charecroft Estate
After the fire at Shepherds Court in August last year, the fire brigade initially said the design of the building meant there had been ‘no rapid fire growth’. They were able to access water supplies at the top of the building and bring the fire under control quickly.
However, the following February, they did raise concerns about the external panels below lounge windows, saying they ‘may have contributed to the external fire spread’. They stopped short of advising us to remove these panels. Instead they asked us to do further safety tests on the panels. In March this year, we commissioned one of the leading firms of specialist fire safety consultants to carry out these extra tests. We expect their report in August, when we’ll have a clearer idea of the risk they pose.
But initial indications are that these panels should be replaced, so we have now decided to remove and replace all the window panels, in all four Charecroft blocks.
This work will take some months to complete. We don’t think we’ll need to put up scaffolding - the work to remove each panel and replace it with a new one can be done using ‘mast climbers’. We are working closely with the fire brigade and with our consultants and the expert view is that there is no need to move residents from their homes while this work is done.
We already have plans in place to replace all the windows on all blocks at Charecroft.
We understand that residents may well find all this very alarming. To offer some extra reassurance, we will have fire marshals on the Charecroft and Edward Woods estates, round the clock, until the work is done. They will patrol the estate, check fire precaution systems and be ready to raise the alarm in the unlikely event that its needed.
We are also working on a programme to install sprinklers in all our high-rise blocks.
Listening to residents
We have sent letters today to Charecroft and Edward Woods estate residents to update them on the news above and to invite them to meetings so they can raise any concerns and ask further questions.
Update: Wednesday 28 June 2017
Families being housed in H&F
We currently have more than 50 families affected by the fire in hotels in Hammersmith & Fulham.
Each of them has been visited by H&F social workers and housing officers to make sure they are receiving the support and practical help they need at this devastating time. H&F staff will continue to visit them every day and to help any new families that arrive.
“Support for these traumatised families from RBKC, and latterly from the combined Grenfell Fire Response Team, has been slow to reach many of the people who have arrived in our borough,” says Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan. “So we have stepped up to make sure they are getting what they need. Whether that’s a mobile phone to keep in touch with relatives, transport to school or bereavement counselling, we’re there for them.
“Thanks to the incredible generosity of local people, community organisations and businesses, we also have an extensive supply of clothes, toiletries, toys and other supplies. We’re very pleased to welcome these families into our community and that they are now getting the support they need.”
We are opening a local children’s centre so that children living in hotels have somewhere to play. It will also give families somewhere to meet up, relax and use computers, phones, and a kitchen.
H&F Council is also arranging hot meals for people placed in hotels without full catering.
Grenfell Tower Response Team
The emergency response to the Grenfell fire is now being co-ordinated by a combined Grenfell Tower Response Team. Like councils across London, H&F is contributing specialist staff, including social workers, rest centre managers and emergency services staff, and we have accommodation on stand-by, if it’s needed.
A Red Cross helpline is in action to give practical or emotional support. The number is 0800 458 9472.
High-rise fire safety in H&F
In Hammersmith & Fulham, we have 15 council housing blocks of 12 storeys or more. Our tallest buildings are three, 23-storey blocks on Edward Woods estate in North Kensington.
We have reviewed fire safety, and have fire risk assessments for all these blocks.
We also have some of the country’s best independent experts validating our Fire Risk Assessments as part of our action plan following the Shepherds Court fire in August 2016.
We are working on plans to install sprinkler systems in all our tower blocks.
We understand how concerned people are following the Grenfell Tower fire. We currently have fire officers visiting our estates to talk to residents and check fire safety arrangements, and letters have been sent to all residents in high-rise blocks.
In light of the events at Grenfell Tower, we are seeking urgent advice from LFB on whether they intend to change their advice on high-rise safety.
Fire Brigade advice - are you prepared?
Residents are being reminded of London Fire Brigade’s advice to be prepared and to make sure the whole family knows what to do in a fire.
The fire brigade updated their advice on 22 June 2017 on when to get out or to stay put in a tower block fire.
The fire brigade offer residents a free home fire safety check. You can book a home fire safety visit online or call 0800 028 4428.
We are doing all we can to improve fire safety in our tower blocks. Part of that involves helping residents to keep their own homes as safe as possible.
The London Fire Brigade has warned that overloaded electric sockets can lead to fires. So we are offering all residents the chance to swap adaptor sockets for safer block extension leads, with inbuilt circuit breakers.
In addition, if you do not have a smoke or heat detector in your property, please contact our customer service centre on 0800 023 4499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and they will arrange a convenient time for installation.
Public Health England also released a statement allaying fears about the risk of smoke to local residents following the fire (pdf).
Blocks with cladding
We have no blocks in H&F that have cladding like that used on Grenfell Tower.
We have three blocks at the Edward Woods Estate that have cladding. This work was done between 2010 and 2013. However, the cladding system uses fire-resistant stonewool insulation which is very different from that used at Grenfell Tower.
These three blocks, which share design features with Shepherds Court, are being reviewed by independent experts as part of our action plan following the Shepherds Court fire last summer. This includes extensive testing, the results of which are due at the end of September.
Shepherds Court, and its sister blocks on the Charecroft estate in Shepherds Bush Green, do not have cladding.
Following testing of panels connected to new windows on these blocks, we have decided that these should be removed and replaced.