A Fire that Ignited an Exigency of Safety Precept

Tuesday, 27th June 2017 | London

After the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, Ms Melanie Dawes- Permanent Secretary of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in London has released an advisory to all property owners, landlords and managers of private residential blocks in England to conduct fire safety checks on their respective buildings.

While the exact reasons for such a blazing fire at the 24-storey building on 14th June 2017 have yet to be determined, there have been many public speculations and media reports about a possible defect in the cladding of the 220-foot high structure. Consequently, a rigorous inspection of the edifices across the region has been instructed by Melanie.

“We are asking local authorities and other registered providers of social housing to identify whether any panels used in new build or refurbishment are a particular type of cladding made of ACM,” Ms Dawes said. “It was important to stress that ACM cladding is not of itself dangerous, but it is important that the right type is used,” she added.

The buildings that are over six storeys or 18 metres high and coated with ACM claddings have been prioritised to undergo a test of a snippet of the material used in it. DCLG has supplied details on how to identify the cladding and a complete procedure to conduct this test. The instructions and guidances are also available with Building Research Establishment (BRE). DCLG will incur the cost of performing the test. However, the cost of any remedial action will be the responsibility of the building owner.

“Where the entire block is not owned and managed by the same party, please ensure that only one sample is provided and that any necessary permissions are obtained for taking and sending off the sample. We would not expect individual leaseholders within a building to send off samples for testing.” Melanie concluded with a directive.

Some property developers and estate experts have also been qualified to furnish sufficient information and assistance to building owners in performing fire safety checks and tests. Billy from Ralph Property Finance in Manchester is one such property expert who has been chosen to provide an adequate support and encouragement to the owners, landlords and residential block managers in conducting safety checks in their properties to prevent such catastrophic firestorms like Grenfell Tower fire which resulted in 79 fatalities, over 70 injuries, many unidentified victims and dreadful damages to the structure. Since then, 600 tower blocks tested, a high percentage have been found defective cladding that Grenfell Tower had.

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