Agenda Item No. 4
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee: 12 July 2017
Report of the Director of Environment and Housing Services
Fire Prevention in the Council's Housing Stock
Purpose of the Report
To update Members on the standard of fire prevention and early detection for the Council's housing stock.
That Members note contents of the report.
Reason for the Recommendation
To provide assurance to Members on the position of compliance within the Council's housing stock in respect to fire safety.
Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington and Chelsea, this report has been requested to provide assurance to Members on the proactive approach by Housing and Building Services in the management of fire risk within the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Housing stock.
Whatever actions or precautions the Council take; it will not be able to stop fire events within its buildings. However, the Housing and Building Services team operate a range of monitoring systems and processes which are supported by building technologies to control the spread of fire within the property to provide the best opportunity for residents to be safely evacuated and the Fire and Rescue Service to control the incident.
To protect the safety of our tenants, Housing and Building Services has the following management procedures in place which are summarised below and set out in the 'Council Housing Fire Risk Management Policy and Procedures' document attached at Appendix 1.
Relevant Issues and Options
The first line of protection is in the provision of fire detection and alarm systems. As part of the WHQS investment programme, fire detection systems have been installed to all the Council's housing stock. All fire detection and alarm systems are serviced annually through a servicing contract, with additional testing being completed for communal systems. Any defects found within these systems are remedied immediately.
Emergency lighting within the communal fire evacuation routes in blocks of flats with shared access is regularly tested and receives an annual inspection to ensure it functions to the design requirements. Any defects found within these systems are remedied immediately.
All flatted accommodation with communal access is subject to a 'Fire Risk Assessment' (FRA) as required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Council has current risk assessments for all communal access blocks, with a programme of works in place to address works which are found necessary following such inspection.
As part of the FRA, monthly block inspections are conducted to ensure all fire evacuation routes and exits are not compromised as a result of issues arising within the blocks. Appropriate action is taken to ensure any defects found are actioned at the earliest opportunity where concerns are raised through these inspections.
Work undertaken to the Council's housing stock meets the latest requirements on fire regulation and in many cases exceeds the requirements set out. The external wall insulation system recently installed to our housing stock exceeds the requirements set out in the regulations with extra fire breaks being installed to all flatted blocks.
The Housing and Building Services team also has a programme of upgrades for individual sites as part of the WHQS improvement programme and this sees many of our buildings being upgraded the latest standards in respect of fire safety.
Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Housing and Building Services team has delivered a programme of reassurance to Council tenants to reinforce the proactive programmes of work being delivered and to assure them; their safety is paramount in the work programmes we deliver.
Consideration is being given to the installation of sprinkler systems at certain housing properties owned by the Council. Whilst sprinkler systems are a requirement for all new build properties being constructed by the Council, the retrospective installation of sprinklers is currently not mandatory and as such the installation of these systems will be guided through a review of the FRA's undertaken in our accommodation.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
Funding for these investment programmes has already been identified through the capital and revenue budgets previously set. Currently no further funding requirements have been identified. However, it is anticipated the fire regulations may change in the near future and could therefore require the investment programme to be reviewed. Further reports will be presented to Cabinet and this Committee should this be necessary
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
The fire prevention and detection systems used assist in maintaining the housing asset for future use and reducing loss in the event of a fire. Where external insulation has been installed, this assists in the reduction of carbon emissions and all current fire regulations have been adhered to.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
The Council already complies with the requirements regarding fire prevention and no adverse legal implications are identified at present.
Crime and Disorder Implications
No implications identified.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
No implications identified.
Wellbeing outcome 1: An inclusive and Safe Vale
Objective 2: Providing decent homes and safe communities
Action: Complete the delivery of the Council House Improvement Programme.
Policy Framework and Budget
Housing Business plan.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
This report affects services delivered throughout the Vale of Glamorgan; therefore no individual ward member consultation has been undertaken.
Council Housing Fire Risk Management Policy and Procedures, provided at Appendix 1.
Andrew Treweek, Operational Manager - Building Services
Tel 02920 673 036
Operational Manager - Legal Services
Accountant - Housing and Building Services
Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services