Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London last week, Powys County Council Housing Service sets out details in respect of fire safety in flat-based accommodation blocks.
There are a series of stringent fire safety measures in place and the devastating events in London serve to underline the importance of these measures. There will inevitably be detailed reports and recommendations coming out of the proposed public enquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower and we will take those on board and review policy and practice at that time.
On Wednesday last week, there was a routine meeting of the Housing Health and Safety Group. This group discussed the Grenfell Tower fire and implications for properties owned by Powys County Council. In particular the Group reviewed our use of external cladding. The service confirmed that the insulation material used in our external wall insulation is an expanded polystyrene system, with a render finish applied to the external face. However, the way in which the material is encapsulated on our properties is very different to the way it was reportedly used at Grenfell Tower. The external wall insulation product is fixed to the dwellings with no significant void between the property and insulation, this means there is no continuous void to act as a chimney or oxygen source. The product is encapsulated within a render finish which should increase the fire resistance of the insulation system; this insulation system is certified by the British Board of Agreement.
In addition, one of our properties which had been clad in this material experienced a fire in the last year, and whilst the interior of the property was badly damaged, the exterior cladding resisted the fire and remained undamaged. Therefore, we are reassured of the safety of cladding we have fitted to our properties. At this meeting the Group also discussed the need for clear assessments of fire safety in the planning, commissioning and delivery of major refurbishment works, this will be taken forward by the relevant team.
The current arrangements around fire safety in blocks of flats owned by Powys County Council Housing are as follows:
Finally, it should be noted that there are no high rise blocks in Powys, the highest block being four stories. This means that neither Powys County Council nor the Fire Service, face the same challenges in Powys as faced by those services involved in the London tower block incident.
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