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Fire Safety Advice

Fire Safety Advice

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Together Housing Group, like everyone in the housing sector, was horrified to hear of the fire in a London high rise tower block last night and our thoughts are with all those affected, their friends and their families.

Together Housing maintain a number of high rise blocks in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester in which fire safety is taken extremely seriously.  We work in partnership with our colleagues in the local fire services and with professional fire risk assessors to make sure our procedures reflect best practice and are kept up-to-date.

We would like to reassure all our customers and nearby residents that we are confident that everything possible is  done to ensure they are protected and kept safe.  We are, however, as a precaution, double checking all of our procedures today and, over the coming weeks, will be re-issuing fire safety advice to tenants.  We would ask that, in the meantime, they take note of the procedures in their accommodation and contact us immediately if they are concerned or want that advice to be re-issued. 

In the coming months we expect there will be much reflection on the cause and response to the fire in London.  We will be paying close attention to that and reacting to any lessons learned to modify our procedures if required and will advise customers if we do this.

UPDATED - Thursday 15 June, AM

Together Housing has cladding on a number of its properties and, following speculation in the media, understand tenant's concern about whether it is fire resistant.

In construction, Together Housing have taken every step possible to ensure the materials they use are fire resistant and the design safe. We do not yet know the details from the Grenfell Tower Fire, so we won't speculate on the cause or be able to compare its design to ours. However, we are reviewing this on a daily basis as details become available and will be keeping tenants informed through our digital channels.

UPDATED – Tuesday 20 June, PM

Together Housing are confident that our high rise tower blocks remain safe and have always used materials and contractors who are compliant with best practice and current legislation on fire safety.

The safety of our residents remains our priority. We have commissioned today (20 June) an independent review of fire safety in all of our high-rise blocks, starting with those that contain cladding.  Contractors from the company undertaking the review will be onsite over the coming weeks across our sites including in Sheffield, Blackburn, Calderdale and Bridlington.  

Residents may see surveyors on their blocks and we’d ask you for time to undertake this important work. We would like to re-assure all residents that we have double checked our procedures and are pleased to confirm that all of our fire assessments are up-to-date.

Over the next few days we are hand delivering individual letters to outline the current fire safety practices.  This includes details on the “stay put” policy in case of a fire.  If our residents remain concerned about fire safety they can email us at the dedicated email address at firesafety@togetherhousing.co.uk or contact us via social media such as Twitter or Facebook.  Alternatively residents can call us on following numbers;

 

UPDATED - Monday 26th June, PM

Together Housing are continuing to work with Trident Building Consultants on investigating the cladding on three high-rise blocks in Mixenden (Calderdale) and one in Sheffield.  They are in the process of taking samples and we expect the results of independent and government testing before the end of this week.  Trident Building Consultants have been appointed to undertake an independent review of fire safety across Together Housing.

Trident have advised us that the cladding on the three towers in Mixenden are aluminium based, and that the data available for this material at this time indicates that the materials are of limited or no combustibility.  The panels on Harold Lambert Court in Sheffield are also aluminium based, however, due to them being an older construction to those in Mixenden, we await further findings from our contractors.  As soon as we get the test results we will be making a decision as to what further actions are necessary.

We have an 24-hour concierge service on site at Mixenden which is monitoring the situation constantly, including via patrols and CCTV.  Residents in all our high-rise blocks have received letters and our neighbourhood staff are working with tenants on a daily basis, including visiting every flat in Harold Lambert Court, Sheffield, and delivering letters where tenants weren’t available. 

We also have tenant drop in sessions planned at both Harold Lambert Court and the high-rise blocks in Mixenden later this week.

We would like to re-iterate that no test results for blocks in Mixenden or Sheffield have yet been received. When these results are received informing tenants will be our main priority. 

 

UPDATED - Wednesday 28th June, PM

Together Housing have today held information events for residents in several of its high-rise blocks, answering questions and providing information. We have also visited some tenants individually and have provided general information on things tenants can do to keep their blocks as safe as possible.  We are keen to ensure that all customers are aware of our dedicated email address firesafety@togetherhousing.co.uk and contact us if  they have any questions at all around fire safety.

Our high-rise blocks in Mixenden have also been audited by a team from West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, who will be providing feedback to us in the next few days and, while confident that all our procedures are in place, we will act on any recommendations we receive.

While we continue to await results from samples of the cladding from our Mixenden high-rise properties we are considering all options open to us, including the removal of the cladding from the buildings.  In any action that we decide to take we will work hard to ensure the minimum disruption possible to our customers and we have no plans to evacuate our blocks at this stage.

 

UPDATED - Friday 30th June, PM

Together Housing has been informed by the Department of Communities and Local Government that samples of the cladding on the high rise blocks in Mixenden - Jumples Court, Mixenden Court and Wheatley Court - have failed their tests.

Together Housing puts the safety of our residents first. We have met with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service on site today to review our fire safety procedures in the light of this new information. They are satisfied with our current fire safety procedures and they have advised that the current Stay Put policy in the event of a fire should still be followed.

The Fire and Rescue Service have advised us to check that all fire doors and smoke alarms in flats are working properly. We will be visiting customer’s homes as soon as possible to undertake these checks and will repair or replace any items at no cost.

We will begin the process to remove the cladding as soon as possible. Our specialist advisor Trident is working with us to remove the cladding and at the same time making the blocks as safe as possible. West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service has advised us it is safe for all residents to remain in their homes whilst this work is being carried out. We will notify our residents as soon as we know the timescale for this.

If residents have any queries they can attend the drop in sessions in the community room on the ground floor at no.3 Mixenden Court. These are taking place at the following times:

  • Saturday 1 July 10am - 2pm; and
  • Monday 3 July 11am – 1pm and 4pm - 6pm.

Residents can ask any question about fire safety via the dedicated email address at firesafety@togetherhousing.co.uk or contact us via social media such as Twitter or Facebook. Alternatively residents can call us on 0300 555 5557.

 

UPDATED - Tuesday, 4th July, 2017, AM

Together Housing is working closely with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in order to reassure tenants and ensure their safety, after cladding failed government safety tests.

Together Housing has met with a number of tenants face-to-face in group and individual sessions as well as talking to numerous others by email, social media and telephone. 

We have also met with West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, who have inspected our high-rise blocks, reviewed our safety policies and provided additional recommendations, which we are acting on.

A spokesperson from West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to carrying out a thorough inspection of any high rise buildings which are reported to have failed the cladding combustibility tests.

“Trained inspectors have visited Together Housing’s high-rise premises in Mixenden  to ensure the Responsible Person is implementing adequate interim fire protection measures where required to ensure people’s safety.”

Together Housing have, upon reviewing the procedures, confirmed that there is no need to evacuate tenants and to keep the "Stay Put" policy in place. 

After fire service teams reviewed our procedures, Senior Fire Protection Manager Chris Kemp said: “We would like to reassure residents that we are taking swift action to ensure Together Housing  are taking the appropriate measures required to allow residents to continue living there safely.

“We do not wish people to be alarmed and we will endeavour to carry out this process with the least disruption possible. There are measures that people can take to help prevent the breakout of a fire and we urge people to review our home safety advice as a precautionary measure to keep themselves and their families safe. 

“Residents should make sure they are familiar with emergency evacuation procedures provided by Together Housing and make an escape plan so that they know what to do if there is a fire in their flat.

“If there is a fire in another flat in the building, they are usually safest in their own home unless they are affected by the heat or smoke.”

George Paterson, Director of Property Services at Together Housing Group said: “Together Housing will be removing the cladding as soon as possible in a planned and safe manner that causes minimal disruption.  As soon as a timescale for this is available we will be sharing it with residents through our weekly communications.

“We are aware that some residents have raised concerns about the render, which covers the walls where the cladding is not present.  We have absolutely no reason to believe that there is any safety concern with this, so are prioritising the removal of the cladding, however our independent consultants will review the render and insulation as part of our comprehensive fire safety review.”

UPDATED 7th July, 2017 Noon

Together Housing Group are pleased to announce that the cladding on Harold Lambert Court, Sheffield is not the Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).  This has been verified by Government testing agency the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

The safety of our residents remains our number one priority.  Therefore Together Housing will be continuing with its independent comprehensive fire safety review and will be working with contractors to carry out a full inspection at Harold Lambert Court.

Daily safety checks of the building’s perimeter and communal areas will continue and the group will be checking the entrance door to each flat, following recommendations from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.  Residents can also help with fire safety by keeping communal areas clear, not using faulty electrical appliances and familiarising themselves with fire safety procedures.

Steve Close, Chief Executive of Together Housing, said: “This is extremely positive news and we hope that it provides tenants with some reassurance.  However, if anyone has any concerns they can find answers at www.togetherhousing.co.uk/firesafety, email their dedicated fire safety team at firesafety@togetherhousing.co.uk or call 0300 555 5561

UPDATED - 14th July, PM

We have been updating residents at Jumples, Mixenden and Wheatley Court in Mixenden on a weekly basis regarding fire safety updates. 

This week we have confirmed that the project team which has been set up to manage the process of removing the cladding is continuing to develop a scope of works and carry out the relevant checks to ensure that the solution we provide once the cladding is removed is the best available. 

We are aiming to start work as soon as possible but we want to ensure that we get it right. We anticipate that the works will start in early August 2017 and we will confirm the details with residents. In addition we have now visited most of our residents’ homes and carried out fire safety inspections. 

George Paterson, Director of Property Services at Together Housing Group said, “The project team are making good progress. We are confident that we will be able to identify a programme of works to remove and replace the cladding as soon as possible. We are keeping residents up to date and continuing to work closely with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.”

UPDATED - 27th July, Noon

Together Housing is continuing to work with Fire Services across Yorkshire and Lancashire to ensure our tenants safety.  On their advice we are continuing with the evacuation procedures that are in place, including (in most instances) the Stay Put policy. 

We are aware that some customers have expressed concerns about their ability to evacuate in a fire so we have written to all our customers in the high-rise blocks we own, providing them with the opportunity to keep us up to date with any information we or the Fire Service would need in an emergency. They can do this by completing the form at https://www.togetherhousing.co.uk/fire-safety/fire-safety-evacuating-your-flat/.

We have also advised tenants in the flats in Mixenden, Calderdale, that the cladding will be removed imminently.

We will continue to keep our customers updated.

UPDATED - 28th July, AM

Together Housing is aware that, following the news this morning, many customers will be concerned to hear reports that 60 high-rise blocks have failed enhanced safety tests where cladding and insulation were tested together.  We would like to reassure residents that our three high-rise blocks in Mixenden are NOT included in these 60 primarily because, while the cladding is ACM, the rockwool insulation is different from that on Grenfell and is non combustible. 

While Together Housing welcomes this news, ensuring tenant safety remains our top priority and we are therefore committed to removing both the ACM cladding and the insulation and replacing it with a suitable alternative.  We have confirmed to residents that our intention is for this work to  begin in September when specialist services have been procured and the long term viability of the different options assessed.  In the meantime, our comprehensive package of enhanced fire safety measures, which have been agreed with West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, remain in place.  We have also encouraged residents to assist in keeping their community safe by observing general precautions around disposal of rubbish, keeping exits clear and keeping us up-to-date with their information.

 

UPDATED: - 4th August, PM

Following our confirmation that we were not part of the 60 high-risk high-rise wall systems tested, the government have carried out further rounds of tests on lower risk tower block systems, testing ACM cladding with a variety of insulations, The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) informed Together Housing late on 2nd August that all wall systems containing ACM cladding, had failed BRE tests.  This includes the three high-rise blocks in Mixenden.

We had already decided to remove both the cladding and the insulation before these tests and so this does not affect our plans going forward and we intend this work to start in September.

In the meantime we are continuing with our increased 24/7 patrols, on-site concierge service and CCTV monitoring system as well as continuing to work with West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service and this will continue for the foreseeable future.

It is also important that residents in all of our blocks play their part by ensuring communal spaces are kept clear, faulty electrical appliances are not used and they keep us up-to-date with any information the fire service may need in the case of an evacuation.  They can find further details on doing this at www.togetherhousing.co.uk/firesafety

If you have any concerns or questions whatsoever, you can continue to email firesafety@togetherhousing.co.uk or call us on 0300 555 5557.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have also offered to carry out Safe and Well home visits to high-rise block residents with any concerns.  You can request this via their website http://www.westyorksfire.gov.uk/your-safety/home/home-fire-safety-checks/ or by calling 0800 5874536.

 

UPDATED: 11th September, 2017, PM

Together Housing have begun removing cladding from the three high rise blocks in Mixenden.

George Paterson, Director of Property Services  at Together Housing Group, said ensuring tenant safety was paramount: “Following advice from the government around the safety of the cladding, we have put together a plan that minimises disruption to tenants and ensures that the cladding and insulation are removed quickly and safely.  We expect the job to last for several weeks, but we’re happy with the progress being made.

“Neighbourhood staff from Together Housing Group are working closely with residents in high-rise blocks to keep them informed and we are also partnering with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to promote a number of fire safety campaigns in the coming months.”

He added that a dedicated fire safety team would be contacting residents again in the coming weeks to update them on progress: “Our team have reassured residents and addressed their concerns, but if anyone does want to raise anything further they can email firesafety@togetherhousing.co.uk or call us on 0300 555 5557.”