Fire brigade satisfied with safety standards at Sudbury House

Published: 26 June 2017

Residents living in Sudbury House in Wandsworth are safe to remain in their homes and do not need to be evacuated according to specialist fire safety officers from the London Fire Brigade.

The announcement follows a comprehensive inspection of Sudbury House carried out yesterday (Sunday) by the LFB, after it emerged that cladding on the exterior of the block had been found not to meet current standards.

The LFB team, which was accompanied by the brigade’s assistant commissioner Tom George, confirmed they are satisfied there is no undue risk to the residents of the block and no reason for them to move out. Residents of Sudbury House were informed of the fire brigade’s decision by letter yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday’s announcement follows a similar decision made by the LFB at Castlemaine Tower in Battersea, which was subject to a similar detailed safety inspection on Saturday, following  the results of the tests carried out on its cladding by Government officials.

Castlemaine and Sudbury have been identified as the only two high-rise blocks in the borough to have been fitted with this type of cladding, but the LFB have concluded that the various other fire prevention and protection measures in the blocks have been properly installed, have been well maintained and remain fit for purpose.

The inspections in both buildings were carried out from ground level to top floor and ncluded fire doors, dry risers, intake cupboards, service ducts, gas pipes and electrical fittings and all other parts of the building that could conceivably catch fire.

This is quite different to the situation in Camden which was forced to carry out an immediate evacuation of a number of its tower blocks on Friday evening following similar inspections revealed a number of other safety concerns.

Cladding from both Castlemaine and Sudbury will now be removed as quickly as possible.

Until that process has been completed the council is deploying fire marshals in each block who will remain there 24 hours a day as an additional safety measure.

The fire marshals will be able to react immediately if there is an emergency. They will also carry out regular six hourly checks of all stairwells, corridors and other communal areas to ensure they remain free of any combustible materials and also free of any obstructions that could hinder evacuation and escape.

They will regularly inspect fire safety equipment such as dry-risers and make sure self-closing fire resistant doors remain in full working order.

Every property in both blocks is also being visited to make sure that residents have working smoke alarms. If they do not the council will provide these free of charge.

The marshals will also ensure residents know and understand the fire safety procedures for their respective blocks and in particular their routes to fire exits.

They will also ensure that fire safety notices and signage in communal areas remain clear and free of graffiti and arrange their immediate replacement if any are defaced or damaged.

And in conjunction with the London Fire Brigade, the council will regularly inspect parking areas to make sure there’s sufficient access for firefighting vehicles.

Residents in both buildings will be kept up to date of any further development through the issue of a regular newsletter.

On Friday the council also announced it’s going to retro-fit water sprinklers to all its tower blocks of ten storeys and above, covering 6,400 dwellings in total.

Commenting on the latest situation council leader Ravi Govindia said: “Over the weekend the fire brigade’s specialist fire safety team carried out very detailed inspections at the two cladded blocks in the borough.

“I’m sure residents in both buildings will be hugely reassured by the positive results of these inspections.

“We have always treated fire safety very seriously in our high rise properties and have invested heavily to ensure they are fitted with the full range of protective measures like internal firebreaks and barriers and fire doors to ensure that if a fire does break out in one property it’s prevented from spreading to others.

“Having had the results back from the Government laboratories to show that the cladding is not sufficiently fire resistant we are now putting in place the arrangements for its removal.

“And we are also beginning the process of arranging for water sprinklers to be installed in 100 of our high rise blocks to offer our residents enhanced levels of safety and reassurance.”

The council is also repeating its earlier advice to residents of high-rise blocks to reduce the risk from fire:

• Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home – these will be provided at no cost.
• Check your smoke alarm is working every month.
• Keep balconies free from clutter.
• Don’t leave rubbish or bikes in communal areas or obstruct escape routes.
• Make sure you know where your nearest fire exit is.
• Do not smoke in common areas of the block.
• Always fully extinguish cigarettes smoked in your home and dispose of them carefully and safely.