A year after the Grenfell fire, resulting in the deaths of 72 people, sprinkler systems have still not been fitted to Wythenshawe’s high rise tower blocks.
Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, which runs the town’s 10 high rises said in December it would be installing sprinklers in the tallest block early this year.
The fitting of the sprinklers was approved by the Group’s board, but in a statement made this week it said sprinklers won’t be fitted before they have finished installing fire alarms, due to be completed in the autumn this year.
The WCHG statement in full:
Wythenshawe Community Housing Group remain committed to ensuring safety in high rise buildings and continue to work closely with GMFRS, MCC and other Registered Providers to ensure a consistent robust approach to fire safety in tower blocks. The Group owns and manages 10 high rise buildings in Wythenshawe and none contain ACM panels. Village 135 did have feature ACM detail to the projecting balconies, these panels were removed immediately and replaced with compliant solid metal cladding. We have worked closely with our residents in all of our high rise buildings which have had annual Fire Risk Assessments completed by an accredited consultant.
Since June 2017, we have repeated and reviewed in detail our approach to fire safety with our Fire Safety consultants to identify any further improvements that can be made to each block. Based on these findings further enhancements have been approved by the Group Board for the installation of sprinklers and full fire alarm systems to the traditional high rise buildings. We have prioritised fire alarm installations to meet FRA recommendations and a number of them have already being installed, with the remainder being completed by Autumn 2018. The fitting of sprinkler systems will follow the installation of the fire alarms.
Today marks the first anniversary of the fire in Grenfell Tower in North Kensington in which 72 people lost their lives. The inquiry into the disaster has heard how combustible material in external cladding fitted to the building was the primary cause of the fire’s spread.
And a report published by the London Assembly, taking evidence from fire safety experts recommended that all residential buildings should be fitted with sprinklers to save lives.
The report said sprinklers should be required by law in new care homes, sheltered housing and blocks of flats higher than six storeys, and the measures should be the first steps on a “road map” towards making sprinklers mandatory in all homes in England.
Solidarity events are taking place across the country this week to remember the victims of the Grenfell tragedy, including a candle-lit vigil in Salford at 6.30pm tonight, organised by the local Trades Union Council.
Wythenshawe’s tallest tower block to be fitted with sprinkler system in response to Grenfell fire tragedy
Wythenshawe’s tallest tower block is to be fitted with a sprinkler system in the wake of the Grenfell Fire tragedy.
A spokesperson for the Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, which runs the 10 tower blocks in the town said work on the retrofit of the tallest building will start in early 2018.
And a spokesperson for the Group told the Reporter WCHG was committed to funding all recommended safety improvements.
The WCHG statement in full:
Wythenshawe Community Housing Group remain committed to ensuring safety in high rise buildings and continue to work closely with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Manchester City Council and other registered providers to ensure a consistent robust approach to fire safety in tower blocks.
The Group owns and manages 10 high rise buildings in Wythenshawe and none contain ACM panels. Village 135 did have a feature ACM detail to the projecting balconies and this was quickly removed in July 2017 shortly following the tragic Grenfell incident. This has now been replaced with a solid metal cladding panel.
We have worked closely with our residents in all of our high rise buildings which have had annual fire risk assessments in place for many years by accredited consultants. Since June, we have repeated and reviewed in detail our approach to fire safety with our fire safety consultants to identify any further improvements that can be made to each block.
The Group will commence an installation of sprinklers to the tallest building in early 2018 and the Board and Executive team remain committed to funding all recommended improvements including sprinklers for the safety of occupants.”
In June, Wythenshawe CHG said it had worked closely with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and was “considering all options including sprinkler systems” to maintain safety in it’s tower blocks.
WCHG’s comments come as Manchester City Council agreed to consult tenants on spending £10.5 million to fit sprinkler systems to the 36 high rise tower blocks it owns most of which are in North Manchester.
The City Council’s Executive today approved the plan in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy earlier this year and will follow the completion of high level fire risk assessments that ensures compartmentation of flats, designed to contain fire within an individual dwelling and stop any spread.
Basic fire risk assessments are already in place in all City Council-owned blocks and housing association provider high rises, and were redone immediately following the Grenfell fire. All fire assessments for Council-owned properties have been made available of the Council’s website.
Greater Manchester Fire and rescue) has visited every single high rise block in Manchester and provided the City Council with details. Where necessary the fire officer has taken steps to address safety issues.
The City Council has also written to every owner or building manager of the 216 privately-owned high rises identified in the city to understand whether the cladding or other building materials used presented pose any potential safety issues.
216 building owners have been contacted in the first two weeks of November and, as they respond, the Council is building up a detailed database which is being shared with DCLG as part of a national picture.
The owners of 12 private buildings that feature Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding have responded positively and have actioned remedial works or commissioned fire risk assessments to reassure residents and fire officers that fire safety measures are in place.
A detailed procedure is being established within the City Council and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) to deal with any owners not responding.
The Council enforcement team, Building Control service and GMFRS are working closely together to ensure that any necessary enforcement actions are correctly actioned.
However, there remains some confusion around enforcement responsibilities and how they are carried out due to a lack of clarity within the current legislation.
The City Council and GMFRS would like to see a revision in guidance for fire safety in flats to address different types of tenure and responsibilities of the building owner and tenants to clearly set out expectations of each party to ensure fire safety.
Cllr Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We need to get to a position where every person who lives in a high rise block feels safe in their homes, understands fire procedures for the building, and building owners know what their responsibilities are.
“We are still awaiting the outcome of the national inquiry following the Grenfell tragedy and we are ready to act quickly to any recommendations. However, we already know that a review into enforcement powers of Councils and the fire service is vital to ensure the legislation is in place to fully protect residents.
“We believe that we should retrofit sprinkler systems in our high rise properties, but it is important that we do this in conversation with our residents – and funding the works will need to be in conversation with Government for their support.”
Wythenshawe Community Housing Group says it will consider fitting sprinkler systems to its tower blocks if that is what is required to maintain the safety of residents.
The Group, which runs social housing in Wythenshawe, has been reviewing fire safety in its tower blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in the North Kensington, London in which at least 79 people have died.
Cladding is already being removed from the Group’s Village 135 complex for elderly people in Wythenshawe and The Reporter put a number of questions to the landlord about other aspects of fire safety, raised by residents. Read More…
Wythenshawe MP Mike Kane has praised Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and the fire service after cladding was removed from a tower block in the wake of the Grenfell fire.
Mr Kane said earlier this week he understood that none of Wythenshawe’s tower blocks were fitted with cladding which has been associated with the rapid spread of the London fire in which at least 79 people killed or are missing presumed dead.
But after a review by landlord, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service, cladding was removed from one of the blocks.
In a statement, Mr Kane said: “We are all shocked by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower. Our thoughts are with those who are affected by the fire, and we are grateful to the emergency services who responded so rapidly and bravely. It is vital that we get to the bottom of how this fire happened, hold those responsible to account, and do what is needed to make sure it does not happen again.
“Wythenshawe Community Housing Group responded quickly following the fire and have been working with Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service to ensure the safety of their tenants. They have inspected all blocks and where cladding was present this has been sent off for testing. This processes has identified an issue with some of the panelling on Village 135 and immediate steps are being taken to remove the panelling. However the view of the Fire & Rescue Service is that Village 135 is a safe building.
“I am grateful to WCHG and GMFRS for their swift response and the steps they are taking to ensure that residents are safe and have the necessary reassurances about fire safety in their their homes.”
Wythenshawe Community Housing which runs social housing in the town says it is removing cladding from a tower block in the wake of the Grenfell fire tragedy in London.
The social landlord said in a statement today it is working with the Greater Manchester Fire service on a comprehensive review of tower blocks in Wythenshawe.
They’ve confirmed they began removing 78 panels today from part of their Village 135 scheme.
The statement following comments earlier this week from Wythenshawe MP Mike Kane that note of the tower blocks in the town have cladding association with the rapid spread of the fire at Grenfell.
WCHG Chief Executive Nigel Wilson said: “I want to reassure all our residents we take their safety very seriously. We immediately commissioned an extensive review of all our 10 tower blocks following this tragedy, which has flagged up a small area of failed panels on one scheme. We have taken immediate action and are in the process of having these panels removed and are working closely with the Local Authority and Greater Manchester Fire Brigade”.
Chair of the Board, The Bishop of Manchester, The Right Revd David Walker said: “WCHG have reacted without delay commissioning this review, following this terrible tragedy, the safety of our residents is our first priority and immediate action is now being taken to resolve this”.
Greater Manchester Fire Service said: “Following Village 135’s test results, we have conducted a fire risk audit, which has concluded that this building is safe for all its residents. We are happy with WCHG’s active and passive fire systems.”
Manchester Health Academy’s Head Girl, has been recognised as Young Person of the Year for her caring volunteering work.
GCSE student Shannon Stone was presented with the award this week at a glittering ceremony held by Wythenshawe Community Housing Group.
Despite a busy school schedule at Manchester Health Academy where she is Head Girl, Shannon finds time to volunteer almost every evening, helping to run sports, drama and youth clubs. She also regularly attends Youth Forum, a group that meets to discuss issues affecting local young people.
Shannon said: “I’d encourage more young people to volunteer – I’m never bored and I meet lots of interesting people. Next week I’m looking forward to interviewing the Lord Bishop of Manchester about homelessness for a documentary we are making.”
The housing group holds an awards ceremony each year to honour community members and organisations for their hard work to make Wythenshawe a great place to live.
Academy Principal, Mr Owen, said: “I am very proud of Shannon, she is a credit to the Academy. This award is a fitting acknowledgement of her caring, community-minded attitude and her personal ethos of hard work. Shannon is a fine example of how much positive difference a young person can make to their community with some dedication and a desire to make things happen.”