Scottish landlords reassure tower block residents in wake of London blaze

West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative's Benmore Tower in Cambuslang
West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative’s Benmore Tower in Cambuslang

Social landlords across Scotland have moved to reassure residents of their respective tower blocks following the fatal fire in London.

At least 12 people have been confirmed dead while more than 50 people were taken to hospital after a blaze broke out at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in West London in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Upon hearing the news, RSLs have said that they are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to make sure all residents are provided with additional advice regarding fire safety.

West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative said it recently conducted a comprehensive fire risk assessment, using specialist contractors, of its six multi storey flat blocks and the results have been positive in relation to the specialist contractor’s findings. A number of relatively minor action points were identified and those actions have now been completed satisfactorily, it added.

A statement on its website read: “In addition to this comprehensive assessment and action Strathclyde Fire and Rescue conduct a quarterly inspection of our blocks and any areas identified as requiring action either from a maintenance or housing management perspective are actioned, and recorded as actioned, immediately.

“Very recently all West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative staff have undergone fire safety training and all Concierge staff have been refreshed on procedures in relation to what must be done in the event of a fire and all Concierge staff have confirmed their understanding of procedures.

“The most recent WWHC newsletter contained a full page article on fire safety information for tenants and new tenant information packs also contain fire safety information and advice”

Aberdeen City Council meanwhile confirmed that all the cladding on its tower blocks have been designed to comply with Scottish Building Regulations.

The council said: “The safety and security of our tenants and residents is paramount and we can assure the public that we constantly ensure our buildings meet the required standards and regulations.

“However, in the wake of the fire in London, we are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service about additional advice which can be given to tenants and residents.

“While investigations are ongoing in London, there have been concerns in the media from tenants in London about over-cladding, and we would like to give the following assurances. All of our over-cladded buildings were designed to comply with Scottish Building Regulations, and have been subject to building warrant approval, detailed design and specifications showing compliance with regulations and an inspection regime.

“It is important to note that all materials employed in the over-cladding are fire resistant and fire stops are incorporated to cavities at party walls, party floors and around windows, which encloses the cavity area to further prevent any risk of fire spreading across the surface of the building. We will keep a close eye on the investigation into the London fire and check our multi storeys again if necessary.

“We have also checked the installation and maintenance of all of our fire alarms and all checks and tests of fire alarm systems in our multi storeys are currently up to date. Our fire alarms are checked and tested on a weekly basis.

“We would encourage all residents to become familiar with all of the fire safety information located in the communal areas of our buildings.”

In a message tweeted by Manor Estates Housing Association, tenants that have had external insulation fitted were told: “You may be aware the Association recently fitted external insulation panels to properties on Telford, Niddrie, Sighthill, Muirhouse, Ratho & South Queensferry estates. In light of the tower block fire in London… and speculation that the blaze took hold so quickly due in part to recent external insulation cladding, we contacted the manufacturers of the materials used on our estates. It is our understanding all materials used for the insulation work meet the necessary building and fire regulations.

“At the present time it is not clear how the London fire started and how it progressed so quickly therefore, it might be rash to speculate it was due to external cladding.

“We are expecting further information from manufacturers and will provide an update as soon as this is received.”

Linstone Housing added: “In light of the dreadful fire at the high rise block in London, some of our tenants may have concerns about the cladding fitted to Asbury and Belmar posing a risk in the event of a fire. The insulation fitted is a non-combustible material with class zero flame spread, which enhances fire protection to the external walls. This has been certified by a Structural Engineer and Renfrewshire Council’s Building Control.”

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