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Fire protection measures highlighted after Ayr high rise inspection

 30 June 2017  |  


Tenants welcomed feedback following the recent inspection

Tenants welcomed feedback following the recent inspection

South Ayrshire Council has issued the results of a review of its three high-rise properties following the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Surveys took place on 19 June as a precautionary measure to ensure that all properties meet relevant safety standards.

The Council has responsibility for three thirteen-storey high flats at Riverside Place in Ayr, which are home to 234 households. The flats were fitted with 'mineral core' external cladding in 1992 – this is a different product from the materials used on Grenfell Tower.

The inspection work involved the removal of a number of cladding panels from the buildings and an inspection of the materials they contained. The rockwool insulation and the cladding panels have been identified as non-combustible, and to provide greater detail samples have been removed from site for further detailed analysis and testing.

The key findings from the initial inspection are outlined below:

  • Neither the insulation nor the cladding panels are the same as those fitted to Grenfell Tower in London.
  • The materials meet the building regulations and fire standards in place at the time, as confirmed by the approved buildings warrant.
  • Materials used are either non-combustible or had the lowest fire rating possible when they were installed in 1992, and designed to inhibit the spread of fire.
  • There are many fire safety measures in place including sprinklers, smoke alarms and self-closing fire doors. These are all designed to either extinguish any fires at source or reduce the risk of fire spreading.
  • Given the age of the cladding (25 years) and changes to building standards over the years, consideration should be given to upgrading the properties to meet current building regulations and modern fire standards.

Councillor Philip Saxton, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Customer Services said the report highlighted a number of important areas, "These findings confirm that the materials used are low risk and highlight the level of internal fire protection already in place in the high rise flats, which will reassure our tenants that we are making their safety our number one priority.

"We're also in the process of looking at upgrade works for the three blocks, which is something we've been discussing with tenants since the start of the year. The next stage of this process is a more detailed engineering survey and design work.

"In the meantime, we're working with tenants to consider smaller actions to enhance their safety and wellbeing such as improving CCTV, extending the coverage of smoke alarms to communal areas, changing our daily inspection regime, and addressing fly-tipping issues."

The last health and safety and fire risk assessments at Riverside Place were carried out in July 2016. The next annual site visit was scheduled to take place next month (July) but were brought forward as part of recent inspection work and took place two weeks early, on Thursday 29 June.

The Council has been in regular contact with tenants at Riverside Place and gave a verbal update at the Tenants Association's AGM on Thursday 29 June. Letters are also being issued to all 234 properties in the high-rise blocks to advise them of the findings 0f the inspection report.

Joe Lafferty, Chair of the Riverside Place Tenants Association, said, "Our ongoing dialogue with our partners at the Council and Fire Service alongside the written updates to individual tenants as more information comes to light were enthusiastically welcomed by those attending our AGM on 29th.

"The reassurances we received at the meeting and the invitation to join a sub-group with these service providers to examine enhanced fire prevention measures illustrates the willingness on all sides to secure the safety of our residents.

"We look forward to playing our part in the short, mid, and long term plans as they develop."

The Council has also written out to tenants and residents in more than 1,400 Council and privately owned properties where we have completed, or are in the process of completing, external wall insulation works. The letters confirm that the materials used in these projects met the required safety standards.