Checking cladding on our high rise estates
After the Grenfell Tower fire, the government asked all councils and social housing providers in Britain to test samples of the cladding on their high rise buildings to see if Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) have been used. ACM is the type of cladding used at Grenfell Tower and is thought to be linked to the spread of the fire there. The tests verify the materials used and ensure it is still safe for residents.
Islington Council sent samples of cladding from eight council blocks to the Buildings Research Establishment for testing. The buildings are on the Harvist Estate, Brunswick Estate and Braithwaite House. We wrote directly to all the residents in these blocks to let them know.
Harvist Estate and Brunswick Estate results
We were told on 30 June that none of the samples of cladding from high-rise council buildings on the Brunswick and Harvist Estates sent for testing contain ACM (Aluminium Composite Material).
Confirmation that these samples were not ACM cladding came from the Buildings Research Establishment (BRE), which is carrying out tests on hundreds of panels on behalf of the government.
On Thursday 22 June, we received results of tests on cladding on the side of Braithwaite House, which confirmed the presence of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).
We arranged for a specialist contractor to start removing the cladding, which is only on the sides of the building, as soon as possible. They started work on the morning of Monday 26 June.
A joint fire inspection was carried out with the London Fire Brigade and we stepped up safety measures in the block immediately, with fire safety patrols taking place day and night until the panels are removed.
We appreciate that this is distressing for residents, and are doing everything we can to update and support them. You can read the council's statement about Braithwaite House from Friday 23 June.
We are sharing information with the London Fire Brigade and the government as soon as we are told and are following London Fire Brigade advice to ensure our residents are safe.
Update 5 July:
We have made good progress on removing the ACM cladding from the sides of Braithwaite House since we started work on 26 June.
We have removed nearly all the panels but still need to tackle some harder to reach areas on the south side of the building that will require us to put up scaffolding.
We also tested the cladding on the front and sides of Braithwaite House as a precaution, which has confirmed that this cladding does not contain ACM.
Islington Council’s fire safety arrangements
Islington Council always follows the most up to date advice on building safety and has a robust Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) programme. We work closely with the fire and rescue service to ensure that fire safety arrangements in high rise blocks are safe and appropriate.
Local Area Housing Office staff also carry out regular inspections which cover fire safety issues. The council’s fire safety arrangements are monitored by the Home and Estates Safety Board, which meets four times a year and is attended by representatives from the London Fire Brigade.
On 29 June the council announced that it is now actively looking into the effectiveness of fitting sprinklers in its tower blocks. Click the link at the bottom of this page to read our statement.
Full details of the council’s response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and fire safety in Islington are here.
London Fire Brigade fire safety advice for residents who live in high rise blocks:
- Make an escape plan and make sure everyone knows how to get out safely
- If there is smoke or fire inside your flat or maisonette and your escape route is clear: Get everyone out, close the door and walk calmly out of the building. Do not use the lift. Call 999, give your address, the number of your flat, and say which floor the fire is on
- If there is smoke or fire inside your flat or maisonette and your escape route is NOT clear: It may be safer to stay in your flat or maisonette until the fire brigade arrives. Find a safe room, close the door and use soft materials to block the gap to stop the smoke. Go to a window, shout “HELP, FIRE” and call 999. Be ready to describe where you are and the quickest way to reach you. Windows above the first floor are not suitable to escape from due to risk of serious injury
- If there is a fire in another part of the building: The structure of your building – walls, floors, doors – are designed to give you a minimum of 30-60 minutes’ protection from a fire, to enable you to remain in your flat while the fire brigade deal with the fire. If there is a fire elsewhere in your building you are usually safer to stay in your flat unless the heat and smoke from the fire is affecting you, in which case you can leave by the stairs if it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to leave and you do remain in your flat call 999 and let them know which flat you are in.
- If you are in communal areas of the building: leave and call 999.
You can find out more on the London fire website.
Other advice from the London Fire Brigade:
- Make sure you have plenty of smoke alarms and test them regularly
- Some buildings have mains powered smoke/heat detectors. If you have a mains-powered alarm which does not work, or beeps constantly, please contact Housing Direct on 0800 694 3344 to report it. Do not disable it – it is there for your safety
- Make sure bikes and rubbish do not block communal exits or your escape routes
- Keep balconies free of clutter. Please do not smoke in communal areas.
- If you smoke, dispose of cigarette ends carefully
- Candles, incense and oil burners are one of the biggest causes of fire within homes. Always keep an eye on them and keep them away from materials that may catch fire such as curtains, furniture, clothes and hair
If you know or work with anyone who may have an increased risk of fire, who is less able to react or has a reduced ability to escape in the occurrence of a fire, please encourage them to book a fire safety check. These may include factors such as being a smoker, a hoarder, having an alcohol dependency or having mobility issues. Visit www.london-fire.gov.uk for advice for parents of young children and carers of elderly adults.
Where to register if you own a Hotpoint fridge freezer
Following the Metropolitan Police Service’s statement that a Hotpoint FF175BP fridge freezer has been identified as the initial source of the Grenfell Tower fire, the government has ordered an immediate examination by technical experts.
This product has not been subject to product recalls and this testing will establish whether any further action is required.
Consumers who believe they may own a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP (white) or FF175BG (grey) should call Whirlpool Corporation on freephone 0800 316 3826 or visit www.hotpointservice.co.uk/fridgefreezer to register their details for further updates.
At this stage there is no specific reason for consumers to switch off their fridge freezer.
Reporting fire safety defects or hazards:
Islington Council carries out regular routine inspections but if you notice fire doors are damaged or do not work properly; if fire escapes are blocked, or if you are concerned that there is a lot of flammable materials in communal areas or on balconies, please contact your local area housing office.
You can find out more on the London fire brigade website and by downloading our ‘Frequently asked questions on fire safety’ from the bottom of the page.
Page last updated 5 July.