Grenfell Tower fire update

Here is an update on what Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils have been doing before and after the recent tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London.

Here in west Suffolk (Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council) we take the safety of the public very seriously. Agencies across the area already work very closely from planning, fire safety, enforcement and housing to make sure guidelines are adhered to.

We have also carried out checks asked for by Government and there are no buildings in our area with the cladding that has been highlighted as an area of concern. We also continue to work closely with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service who have some good information about fire safety and also carry out checks.

At the end of this is some information about our responsibilities and that of landlords as well as ways residents can keep themselves safe.

The only tower block we have in west Suffolk is Icewell Hill in Newmarket. This is not owned by the council but is owned and operated by Flagship Housing. Just days after the fire in London there was a regular multi-agency meeting with residents which was attended by the local Councillor and officers as well as Flagship and the fire service were also there and gave reassurances to residents that fire safety procedures are in place. Flagship with agreement by the residents have already allowed fire service training to be carried out at the building.

The Government has arranged for any cladding suspected to be of Aluminium Composite Material to be tested for free. Private residential landlords can also qualify to have these free tests. Find out more: Safety checks on private residential blocks

We have replied to Government already that we don’t have any relevant  properties with the cladding in question and we are also liaising with partners, such as the fire service and social landlords to support any further safety checks that might be required.

We will keep you informed of any developments as appropriate.

Role of the Public Health and Housing team

What the councils do:

  • regularly inspect houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) to ensure that they meet fire safety standards (blocks of purpose built flats do not come under the HMO legislation and are the responsibility of the landlord, who will work in conjunction with the Fire Service to risk assess and ensure that the satisfactory fire standards are in place)
  • work with landlords and tenants in private rented properties to ensure they have smoke alarms and give fire safety advice
  • work with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service on flats above commercial premises initiative across Suffolk
  • work with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service fire safety officers

What we expect landlords to do:

  • carry out any fire safety works identified by the council or Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service
  • carry out fire safety risk assessments in their properties

What residents can do:

  • check your electrical appliances
  • close internal doors at night and unplug electrical appliances
  • keep fire doors closed
  • make sure candles are not left unattended
  • report any damage to fire doors, alarms or other fire safety measures to your landlord
  • test your smoke alarms monthly
  • think about your fire escape plan in the event of a fire in your home

Note: The councils, under their Housing Authority role, may inspect individual flats under the Housing Act and identify hazards to the landlord.