Increase in fire safety budget to be discussed

Published Wednesday, 11th September 2019

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Further investment in fire safety is to be discussed by the council’s cabinet (Tuesday 17 September).

Councillors will discuss a proposal to increase the fire safety budget to £750,000 as part of a report that also highlights the vast amount of work which has already been done to improve fire safety across the Borough and future work to be carried out in partnership with South Essex Homes.

The council allocated £500,000 per year during 2018/19 and 2019/2020 specifically for fire improvement works in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy. Now an additional £250,000 is being requested to enable high priority works at the Cliffs Pavilion to take place this financial year.

It is also proposed to permanently increase the budget to £750,000 per year to enable fire safety works across all high and medium priority buildings to be completed.

In addition to work already carried out across tower block and council buildings:

  • an independent consultant has carried out a series of fire safety reviews on one of each style of block that the council owns. Both blocks were determined to have a ‘moderate risk’, which is typical for tower blocks of this type
  • although a type 4 fire risk assessment (FRA) was not a recommendation from this review, to reassure residents, the council is appointing external consultants to undertake type 4 FRA’s in one of each style of high rise residential block
  • floor levelling works are set to start in the autumn to reduce gaps below fire doors and improve the performance of the cold smoke drop down seals
  • South Essex Homes are appointing a Fire Safety Manager to co-ordinate all fire safety activities across their stock
  • fire door and compartmentation works have taken place at a number of council buildings, including Civic One, Project 49, Viking House, Shoebury leisure centre and Chase sports centre

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says: “Fire safety is rightly at the top of our agenda, and this report details the excellent progress that has been made in a number of areas, but also the important work that we intend to do in the future.  The proposal to increase the fire safety budget we have for the next five years would ensure that we can keep doing the work that is needed to ensure our buildings are safe and residents are reassured.

Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer contact, said: “Although the council’s buildings meet the regulatory standards that were in place when they were constructed, extended or altered, and they have up-to-date fire risk assessments in place, we have a duty to make sure our residents and visitors feel safe and secure at all times.

“By proposing to increase the budget for the next five years we are demonstrating the importance we place on the fire safety work continuing to take place, and reinforces our commitment to get the work done and leading by example.

“It will also allow us to implement the recommendations of the central government’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.”