Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 4TH FEBRUARY, 2013
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION): 16TH JANUARY, 2013
“ SMOKE ALARMS AND FIRE SAFETY PROVISION IN BLOCKS OF FLATS (DVSH) –
All Council properties currently conformed to Building Regulations at the time of construction and the introduction of new regulations rarely required retrospective works to be undertaken unless there was a significant alteration to any property. In addition, the Council did not install smoke alarms in any of its communal areas, except for sheltered housing schemes, nor did it have interlinked property alarms within blocks of flats.
Advice and guidance from the Local Authority Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) had been adopted by all authorities in Wales and the Welsh Fire and Rescue Service and referred to fire protection, including automatic fire detection systems in all types of properties from single dwellings to houses in multiple occupation.
Following a recent fire at the property in Court Road, Barry, the leaseholder had made a request for the Council to install linked smoke alarms at the property.
The Committee was informed by the Operational Manager for Public Housing that the properties in Court Road, like the majority of Council owned flats, were purpose built properties containing two flats without a common part and therefore they would be considered as two single dwellings and not a house in multiple occupation. The Committee was also advised that the original construction of the properties in Court Road had integral concrete floors, building compartmentation and separate accesses. This would therefore provide at least one hour of protection which would allow sufficient time for the Fire Service to attend any fire. The Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order 2005 would apply to properties of the type at Court Road but as there were no common parts, the Fire Service would have no powers to deal with the property under the auspices of the above Order. In addition, all Council owned flats benefitted from the installation of hard wired smoke alarms which complied with the above Regulation. In addition, all smoke alarms in the Council’s elderly persons’ accommodation were linked to the VCAS service via the existing emergency alarm service.
The Operational Manager indicated that where common parts did exist the Council, in compliance with the relevant legislation, had a responsibility to inspect every communal area and where necessary develop improvement plans where risk assessments had highlighted via fire safety risks. In some instances, particularly in some construction types, i.e. high rise developments, these had been undertaken jointly with fire officers from the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Where risks had been identified as high priorities these had been addressed and in other circumstances these would be addressed via amendments to specifications, WHQS improvements or future work programmes. There were no urgent recommendations to install linked property fire alarms, within the Council’s existing properties, other than consideration when replacing the existing communal alarm system at Awbery House (high rise flats), nor were there any outstanding enforcement notices concerning compliance with the Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order 2005.
Taking account of the above factors and in the absence of legal or statutory requirements to do so, the linking of smoke alarms in this case was not identified as a priority within the Council’s current 30 year business plan.
Having regard to the above, it was
RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be requested to give consideration to installing linked smoke alarms in Council owned flats when replacement of the existing smoke alarm systems was required.
Reason for recommendation
To improve fire safety in Council owned flats including communal areas.”
Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 16th January 2013