Safety checks at all city tower blocks

June 30 2017

BRISTOL Mayor Marvin Rees has been to a tower block in east Bristol to reassure residents about the safety of their homes.

BRISTOL Mayor Marvin Rees has been to a tower block in east Bristol to reassure residents about the safety of their homes.

He was accompanied by fire service and council officials and Bristol East’s MP Kerry McCarthy for the visit to Butler House in Summerhill Road, which came in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London.

Mr Rees said:“We have all been extremely saddened by the Grenfell fire, and the shock continues to resonate. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the friends and families of those who have lost their lives or been affected by this awful tragedy.

“We do not believe there is cause for concern about our tower blocks, but we are monitoring events very closely and will take on board any recommendations that come out as a result of the investigation. This would include any necessary changes to our policies and procedures.

“We will decide our next steps once we know more about the causes of the fire and the initial results of the investigation.

“I want to reassure our tenants that we are doing all that can possibly be done to protect them, and make sure that Bristol never experiences a similar tragedy.”

Councillor Paul Smith, cabinet member for housing, explained to residents in St George that the cladding added to Butler House for insulation and weather production was, unlike Grenfell Tower, fixed directly to the building.

Bristol City Council has been spending £2million per year for the last five years on improving fire safety in high rise blocks of flats. It plans to spend at least £1million per year for the next ten years.

All council tower blocks have annual fire risk assessments. Other safety measures in place, include smoke detectors in every home, and sprinklers in the majority of bin rooms – all blocks will have these by the end of the year.

Station manager Steve Quinton, technical fire safety manager at Avon Fire & Rescue, said: “The Grenfell Tower fire was an absolute tragedy and as a service we will take a particular interest in the investigation to make sure we do everything we can to ensure the safety of residents of high rise properties in our area.”

Council policy is that if tenants have a fire or smell smoke in their own flat, they should get out, close the door behind them and call 999. 

If tenants are aware of a fire in another flat they should call 999 and stay put until the fire and rescue service organise an evacuation.

Station officer Quinton said the visits, which will be taking place at all council tower blocks, provided an opportunity to explain why ‘stay put’ was still the best advice and to address other concerns.

Following the difficulty of emergency service access at Grenfell Tower, the Voice asked the fire service officers whether homes built in the grounds of some Bristol tower blocks, including Butler House, posed a problem for crews. We were told that emergency services were considered before new housing was built and access was maintained.

Avon Fire & Rescue offer free home fire safety visits for all (not just those who live in tower blocks). Further information is available at www.avonfire.gov.uk/our-services/home-fire-safety-visits or call 0117 926 2061.