FIRE SAFETY UPDATE
Following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in London on Wednesday 14 June 2017, we wish to reassure our tenants and residents of the fire safety arrangements that are currently in place. Byker Community Trust (BCT) works closely with the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and all blocks of flats in Byker have a valid Fire Risk Assessment in place.
Blocks are checked daily to ensure fire escape routes are free from any obstructions and numerous fire safety inspections are carried out on a monthly basis. All homes in Byker are fitted with smoke detectors, and if your home is on the concierge system your smoke alarm is connected to the Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) enquiry centre. If a smoke alarm is activated from a property on the concierge system, the resident will be contacted through the intercom system by a member of staff from YHN, who deliver the concierge service on our behalf. If they were to receive no response, the Fire and Rescue Service is contacted immediately. This service is operated 24 hours a day, 52 weeks a year.
All emergency evacuation instructions and exits in blocks are identified by signage, and we ask all residents to remain vigilant and report any fire, by calling 999, and evacuating the building immediately.
I understand that many residents may be anxious after seeing the tragic events of this fire unfold, and our deepest sympathies go to all those families affected. I hope this update reassures you that BCT has robust fire safety systems in place.
There has been a lot of speculation in the press relating to the type of cladding on the outside of Grenfell Tower. We can confirm that the type of cladding on our buildings is not the same as the cladding used on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. Once the full facts of this horrendous fire are known, BCT will be studying the report into this incident and implementing any necessary Government recommendations.
There are some key questions and answers outlined below which provides you with information relating to any additional questions you may have. However, if you still have any further questions or concerns, please contact Byker Community Trust on 0800 5335 442, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at 17 Raby Cross.
Fire Safety Advice – Question and Answers
What construction are our blocks in Byker and what type of cladding is on the external of these blocks?
- Our blocks were designed and built to be fire resistant. They are concrete framed with blockwork infill panels externally and a mixture of brickwork, and cladding to the outer face. All blocks are fitted with fire doors which will hold back the flames and smoke to allow time to evacuate the building. .
- As part of the Byker Wall external refurbishment the cladding on the Byker Wall was replaced with a fibre cement cladding. All work undertaken was fully compliant with Building Regulations.
- The white cladding on Tom Collins House and the Dunn Terrace section of the Wall is a different type of cladding. It is a metal cladding bolted to the building.
- The type of cladding on our blocks is not the same as the cladding used on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
Since 2006 there has been a legal requirement for all properties with enclosed communal spaces (which includes our blocks in Byker) to have a valid Fire Risk Assessment. These assessments ensure that our buildings are compliant with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and if necessary will identify work required by BCT to reduce or eliminate the risk of fire.
The aim of the fire risk assessment is to:
- Identify any hazards;
- Reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to as low as reasonably practicable;
- Decide what physical fire precautions and management policies are necessary to ensure the safety of people in the premises if a fire did start.
All blocks in Byker have a valid fire risk assessment.
What Fire Safety Checks are carried out on my block?
- All exit routes are checked to ensure they are operating correctly and free from obstruction.
- Fire doors in corridors and stairwells are inspected to ensure they are operating correctly.
- All emergency evacuation instructions, fire exit and no smoking signage is checked to ensure none is missing.
- Smoke detectors in bin stores are tested weekly.
- All flat entrance doors, communal doors and bin doors are compliant fire doors, and fitted with intumescent strips and smoke seals where this has been identified in the fire risk assessment. Flat entrance doors will be replaced at Tom Collins House as well as other fire safety improvements which were recommended in the fire risk assessment as part an external and communal upgrade scheme. This project will be starting on site in autumn 2017.
- Emergency lighting systems in our blocks are tested every 6 months.
- Firefighting equipment, where identified as being required in the fire risk assessment is inspected annually.
- The fire alarm system at Tom Collins House is serviced every 6 months and tested weekly by the Sheltered Housing Officer as per legislation.
How do the Fire and Rescue Service get in my block?
The Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service do not need a fob to get in your block. All our entrance doors are fitted with a bi-lock which is a special lock that can be opened by a master key by the emergency services and will over-ride the door locking system.
Do we have Sprinkler Systems or Dry Riser systems in our blocks?
- No. The Byker Wall and Dunn Terrace section of the Wall do not have sprinkler systems as this has never been a legal requirement in existing buildings.
- Tom Collins House is our tallest building at 11 storeys and is fitted with a dry riser. This allows the Fire and Rescue Service to distribute water to each floor without running hoses.
- As part of the upcoming refurbishment of Tom Collins House, we are exploring if it is technically possible to fit a sprinkler system into this existing building.
What should I do if there is a fire in my home?
If there is a fire in your home, you should:
- SHOUT FIRE – make sure everyone in your home knows exactly what is happening.
- GET OUT – leave the building as quickly and calmly as possible through the nearest safe exit. Emergency lighting will be illuminated and will guide you out of the building. NEVER USE THE LIFTS. GO DOWN THE STAIRS.
- SHUT THE DOOR – all of your flat entrance doors are fire doors and by doing this it will delay the spread of the fire.
- ALERT NEIGHBOURS – by banging on their doors on the way out of the building. If there is a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air will be cleaner.
- CALL 999 – and contact the Fire and Rescue Service.
- STAY OUT – do not go back for anything.
What if I am trapped by the fire?
If you are trapped in your home by the fire:
- Try and stay calm.
- Get everyone in one room, with a phone and an opening window if possible.
- Ring the Fire and Rescue Service by calling 999, or shout to alert people.
- Use bedding or clothing to block the bottom of the door and stop some of the smoke getting into the room.
- Stay together until the emergency services arrive.
Where do I get more advice?
The Tyne & Wear Fire Service have a lot of useful information on their website at www.twfire.gov.uk or you can contact them on 0191 444 1500.
What if I have difficulty and cannot use the stairs?
- If you think you may have difficulty in escaping from your property in the event of a fire, the Fire and Rescue Service can give you advice. Please contact them on 0191 444 1500 and ask for your local prevention and education team or look at the ‘home safety check’ section of their website and request a home visit.
- If you live at Tom Collins House, this information should be provided to your Sheltered Housing Officer. Information on residents unable to escape via the stairs is held in the fire log book, in a fireproof box on the ground floor so that the Fire and Rescue Service have these detailed Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans immediately as they arrive at the block.
What if I am Blind or Deaf?
If any of our residents are blind, deaf or hard of hearing we can provide specialist equipment so they are alerted in the event of a smoke alarm being activated.
If this applies to you, a family member or a friend who lives in Byker, please contact Byker Community Trust on 0800 5335442, email email@example.com or visit us at 17 Raby Cross and we will arrange for the necessary equipment to be fitted at the property.
Testing your Smoke Alarm?
- You should test your smoke alarms every month, by pressing the test button on the alarm.
- If your ceiling is high, use a stepladder to reach it or a broom handle or walking stick to push the test button.
- Once a year you should gently vacuum clean the smoke alarm.
If your fire alarm is not working please contact Byker Community Trust on 0800 5335442, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at 17 Raby Cross.