Fire safety works remain a priority

A document setting out the work carried out as part of the council’s Fire Safety Review, including pilot sprinkler systems and an update on type four fire risk assessments, is set to be discussed by Cabinet (Tuesday 15 September).

Inactive Fire Sprinkler on Ceiling By Brandon Leon - Flickr: Day 25: Fire Sprinkler, CC BY-SA 2.0

The report (agenda item 8), sets out the progress made on the Fire Safety Review, which was established alongside South Essex Homes following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

Confirmed within the report, Cabinet members will note that all the council’s existing operational buildings, alongside those managed by South Essex Homes meet the regulatory standards required, and all have up to date fire risk assessments, some of which were carried out in conjunction with Essex County Fire and Rescue (ECFR) when necessary.

Included in the report is also information around the appointment of International Fire Consultants Limited to undertake type four fire risk assessments, with a programme for the works currently being planned, whilst taking into account restrictions put in place due to Covid-19. Quantock and Brecon blocks have been selected for the works as they are representative of the two types of high-rise residential blocks managed by South Essex Homes.

Cabinet will also discuss works from the council’s capital programme, including a pilot sprinkler system to be installed in Cecil Court, and a pilot project to fit an annunciation system in Longbow which is set to start in early autumn 2020. The installation of evacuation alert systems will then be installed across all high-rise residential blocks taking into account feedback from the pilot installation and national guidance. Councillors will also receive an update on how works have been progressing on the fire safety works being carried out on council buildings such as Chase Sports Centre, Southend Tennis and Leisure Centre and Belfairs Swim Centre.

The Council and South Essex Homes will be communicating with residents in each block before any works take place and throughout the course of the installations.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “Fire safety is a top priority for this council, and that is why we have budgeted £750,000 for fire safety works each year, along with £400,000 to carry out the sprinkler pilot project, which has a total cost of £450,000, £50k of these costs are met through a grant from ECFR. I am pleased to see another update on how works are progressing, as having appropriate fire safety measures in place saves lives. It is essential we get this right.

“This wide-ranging report covers both day-to-day and wider improvement works. Working in conjunction with South Essex Homes and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, we will be carrying out type four fire risk assessments in two of our high-rise buildings, which is something I know is an issue of importance.

“It is important that we continue to work closely with our partner agencies to ensure no residents worry about fire safety. The investment from our capital programme seems to be making a real difference. I look forward to discussing the report at length with Cabinet.”

Published: 9th September 2020

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