‘Fire Safety in 1960’s High Rise ?’

In a recent program on the BBC, the safety of some of the UK’s high rise tower blocks has been put into question. Aired on Monday, 25th October, ‘Inside Out West Midlands’ reported on possible fire safety failures in recently refurbished blocks within the West Midlands area.

The main argument of the programme was around the Decent Homes Programme of improving the properties. Homes are being modernised within the programme to offer better living standards and with increased levels of insulation are, as a result, becoming more environmentally friendly. But it seems fire safety is being overlooked.

In 2009, the ‘Lakanal House’ blaze in London claimed 6 lives, some of these young children, and whilst we wait for an enquiry into what went wrong, are our high rise tower blocks really safe in a fire? Government have become so concerned that they have written to all Local Authorities to explain the need for improvement in fire safety provisions.

One recently refurbished property was visited by the programme and with a fire officer problems were clearly identified. At a total cost of some £4.7M, £40,000 per flat, fire safety was still in question.

SE Controls argue that there is an urgent need to review all the UK’s high rise living accommodation, 224 tower blocks in the West Midlands alone, to determine that safe levels of fire safety and smoke control is adequately provided. This inspection should be initiated by independent inspectors and cannot begin too soon. If the confusion of a City Councillor interviewed on the programme is systemic within the authority, urgent action is required.

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