Like all of us, Cllr Mary Locke has been horrified by the blaze at Grenfell Tower in London and is anxious for the safety of all residents and tenants living in tower blocks in Birmingham. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured and lost their homes.
Please find below a summary of the steps Mary has taken so far in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and important information about what action the council, in working with West Midlands Fire Service, will take to make sure local people can be confident about the safety of their own homes.
What does the council already do to keep people safe from fire?
After learning about the Grenfell Tower block blaze, Mary immediately contacted Cllr Peter Griffiths, the Cabinet member with responsibility for Housing and Homes, asking what the council will be doing to check the safety of similar properties in Birmingham. Peter Griffiths issued a briefing note yesterday, which was updated earlier today. The key points of the briefing are:
- Council staff working with West Midlands Fire Safety Officers will be visiting tower blocks to provide some re-assurance to residents and will carry out checks of the communal areas at the same time.
- The council carries out annual fire safety inspections on all of its properties with communal areas. Every year the council checks 200 Tower Blocks, 1800 Low Rise Blocks and 500 Properties with communal areas.
- Every tower block has a current fire risk assessment.
- The council carries out thorough daily inspections of high rises to spot issues which which could cause a fire, such as litter being left in communal areas.
- Where refurbishment works have been carried out the council has used fire resistant materials. The external wall installation used in Birmingham properties is different to the over cladding that appears to have been used on Grenfell Tower. The council has only used products that have attained BSA414 safety standard.
What extra actions will the council be taking in response to the GrenFell Tower tragedy?
At this stage we still don’t know what has caused the fire in London. Here in Birmingham, the council will be taking stock and reviewing Fire Safety procedures in light of this incident. The council will also look closely at the recommendations that come out of the public inquiry which the Prime Minister has now announced.
Cllr Mary Locke will continue to ask questions about the safety of housing in Birmingham and ensure the council learns from the Grenfell Tower tragedy.