H&F Fire Safety Plus
We’re working to keep you safe
The fire in Kensington has made one thing clear - just meeting minimum fire standards is not enough. The regulations are clearly not good enough. So we’ve put together an H&F Fire Safety Plus programme and we’ll be going above and beyond what is required. We want our residents to know that we care deeply about your safety, we understand your concerns, and we will do everything it takes to keep you safe.
“All councils need to do more to make sure tenants’ and leaseholders’ homes are safe. We’ve got work to do here - that’s why we’ve developed an H&F Fire Safety Plus programme to make sure our properties meet higher standards. And we’ve set aside £20million to pay for it. Tenants and leaseholders have been working with us to shape our Fire Safety Plus package. We’ve been visiting estates and hearing residents’ concerns and suggestions for improving fire safety - and we’re acting on that with a massive programme of works.”
Cllr Stephen Cowan
Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council
Our Fire Safety Plus programme
Our Fire Safety Plus programme is about doing more than is required of us to keep you safe. We’ve set aside the money to fund a major package of testing, works and free equipment for our residents.
1. Free safety checks for every council high-rise home
We are offering every council resident living in a block or converted street property an individual safety check visit, with priority for people in high-rise homes (six storeys or more). As well as our standard smoke alarm and gas checks, we’re offering every home an H&F Fire Safety Plus package.
- New fire doors - If, during our safety visit, we find the external fire door to your flat doesn’t meet safety standards, we’ll replace it with one that resists fire for 60 minutes if you live in a block of 6 storeys or more and for 30 minutes if you live in a block with 5 storeys or less. These works will be done as part of a wider safety programme. There will be no charge, including to leaseholders, and we won’t take any action against anyone who has altered their door.
- Free replacement appliances - If you want us to we’ll give your white goods (washing machines, fridges, tumble dryers etc) a free portable appliance test (PAT) safety check. We’ll replace any appliance that fails the test with a brand new one - for free. That includes for leaseholders.
The fire in Shepherds Court last year was started by a faulty Hotpoint tumble dryer. If you haven’t yet checked whether your appliances are on the Hotpoint, Creda or Indesit recall list, please do so and book your upgrade with them. You can also check to see if other appliances have been recalled by the manufacturer since 2007.
- Free heat detectors - During our visit, we’ll also install free heat detectors and check any detectors or alarms you already have to make sure they’re working properly.
2. Replacement concierges
We’ve brought back concierge staff to Edward Woods and Charecroft estates and are looking to do the same at other estates where concierge staff have been removed in the past.
3. Sprinklers in tower blocks
We are working on a plan to install sprinklers in all high-rise blocks. As a first step, we are drawing up specifications for the work for each block where sprinklers would help improve safety, and we’ll be in touch with you about detailed plans for your estate or block. We will not be charging leaseholders for installing sprinklers.
4. Better fire assessments
We have independent experts reviewing fire safety in all communal blocks. Current standards don’t require these assessments to check the outside of the building - cladding and external panels are not usually checked. So we’ve raised the standards in H&F and asked our expert fire reviewers to look at all external panelling. They will also do much more detailed and thorough assessments than in the past.
- View the fire risk assessment schedule for tower blocks of six storeys or more
- Request a copy of a fire risk assessment
To book your Fire Safety Plus visit, call the customer services centre on 0800 023 4499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Free plug adaptors
The London Fire Brigade advise residents not to use cube-style plug adaptor or extensions. They say linear adaptors with circuit breakers built in are safer.
We have held several events allowing residents to swap cube-style adaptors for an extension lead.
If you have any questions about the Fire Safety Plus residents’ package, call the customer services centre on 0800 023 4499 or email email@example.com
Blocks with cladding
We have no council blocks in H&F that have cladding like that used on Grenfell Tower.
We have only three blocks that have cladding - all at the Edward Woods estate. We have had both the materials used and the installation tested by independent experts BRE, and the Edward Woods estate has passed these tests.
There are some housing association blocks in the borough that have failed the cladding tests. None of these are council properties, and the housing associations that own them are working to make them safe.
The fire at Shepherds Court in Shepherds Bush on 19 August 2016 was caused by a faulty tumble dryer igniting. There was no loss of life or serious injury and initial fire reports showed the fire was well-contained. However, the fire brigade subsequently raised concerns about external panels below lounge windows.
We have commissioned one of the leading firms in the field to carry out additional testing and assessment of these window panels.
We will be removing and replacing the window panels at Charecroft estate and we have round-the-clock fire patrols in all the Charecroft blocks to keep people safe while this work is being done.
We have commissioned a review of all our other communal blocks to check if these panels are used elsewhere, to check their safety, and, if necessary, to replace these too.
Listening to residents
One of the main lessons from the Kensington fire is that councils should do more to listen to residents and act on their concerns. Here’s what we’ve been doing to make sure residents’ voices are heard:
- Fire safety officers are currently visiting all our estates to talk to residents, and to check fire safety arrangements.
- We’ve begun the process of setting up a residents’ advisory group on fire safety, to work with us on our improvement plans.
- We have held advice and listening sessions at the Edward Woods and Charecroft estates in Shepherds Bush - some of our tallest tower blocks where there have been concerns about cladding and window panels.
- We’ve written to all residents in high-rise blocks in H&F to offer advice and reassurance where we can. We’ve also written separately to residents of Edward Woods and Charecroft estates about their specific concerns.
- We’ve met our tenants’ and residents’ associations to hear their views on actions we need to take, and will continue to work closely with local people.
Fire safety plus residents' advisory group
The Fire Safety Plus Residents’ Advisory Group (FRAG) is being set up at the request of the leader of the council, Cllr Stephen Cowan, following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower to ensure residents are at the heart of our fire Safety Plus strategy. Your input into the group will help to inform how the £20m package of Fire Safety Plus measures will be rolled out, benefitting all council housing residents.
Find out more about this group and how to apply to become a member - Fire safety plus residents' advisory group
Please help keep your home safe
There are some simple ways you can help keep your home and family safe.
The following requests are based on fire brigade advice:
- please keep communal areas and hallways clear of obstructions, such as furniture, bikes and boxes. It could save lives
- please talk to your family about your fire plan - and make sure everyone knows what they should do, including children. Each block has its own fire safety procedures, but you can also find general advice from the London Fire Brigade
- please don’t smoke in bed or leave candles unattended
- make sure you install a smoke alarm and test it regularly – find out more about smoke alarms
- please don’t remove or alter the external fire door to your flat. These are crucial to stopping the spread of fire in any block and give you the protection you need to stay safe until the fire brigade is able to put out any fire
- we really need you to help us by allowing us access for fire and safety inspections so we can test equipment and fire doors
- if you have concerns about any of the appliances in your house or in your block, please tell one of your local housing officers
- please talk to your neighbours and help them with their fire plans if they need it, especially older people living alone or people who have recently moved to the area.
What to look for in your building
Fire safety in all buildings also depends on good maintenance and housekeeping.
Here are some things to keep an eye on:
- all front doors of flats and doors on corridors and staircases must be ‘self-closing’ fire doors
- fire doors must ‘self-close’ properly, and not be held or wedged open. They are designed to stop the spread of fire
- things shouldn’t be stored in corridors or staircases. This can block escape routes and stop firefighters doing their job. They can also feed the fire
- storage on balconies should kept to a minimum
- there should be signs that show you how to escape fire.
If you’re concerned about any of these things, contact your local housing office.
Should I stay put or get out?
This is the advice from the fire brigade. We’ve checked, and their advice remains the same after the Kensington fire.
If your home is being affected by fire or smoke and your escape route is clear:
- Get everyone out, close all windows and doors and walk calmly out of the building.
- Do not use the lift.
- Call 999, give your address, the number of your flat and state which floor the fire is on.
If there is a fire or smoke inside your home, but your escape route is NOT clear:
- It may still be safer to stay in your flat until the fire brigade arrives.
- Find a safe room, close the door and use soft materials to block any gaps to stop the smoke.
- Go to a window, shout “HELP, FIRE” and call 999.
- Be ready to describe where you are and the quickest way to reach you.
If there is a fire in another part of the building:
- You are usually safer staying put and calling 999. Purpose-built blocks of flats are built to give you some protection from fire. Walls, floors and doors can hold back flames and smoke for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Tell the fire brigade where you are and the best way to reach you.
- If you are in the common parts of the building, leave and call 999.
Why is it usually safer to stay put?
The London Fire Brigade’s guidance is to ‘Stay Put’ unless your flat is being affected by fire or smoke.
This is because:
- Blocks of flats are usually built to prevent the spread of fire - ‘compartmentalisation’ includes fire breaks between flats and between floors.
- By leaving your flat, you may walk into smoke or fire in communal areas.
- Opening your fire door may allow the fire into your home and help spread smoke and flames.
- Staying put will also allow firefighters to tackle the fire safely and quickly without being delayed by many residents evacuating down the stairways.
- During the Shepherds Court fire in 2016, residents were advised to follow the standard fire brigade advice for tower blocks and to stay in their homes. Many families remained in the upper floors until the fire was brought under control.
- This ‘stay put’ advice, together with the swift response to the fire and the building’s good quality fire-retardant systems, led to the initial fire report concluding there had been ‘no rapid fire growth’ and shows these combined measures can and do work successfully.
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