Following the serious and tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, London, we wanted to reassure our customers and stakeholders about our approach to fire safety in high-rise buildings.
bpha, along with other social housing providers, has been reviewing fire safety across all our high-rise buildings as a precaution.
Generally a high-rise block is a building which has six storeys or more. bpha manages 16 such high-rise blocks, 14 of these are in Bedford and 2 are in Cambridge.
The 14 high-rise buildings in Bedford were constructed in the late 1950s and 60s and are built from solid concrete. None of these blocks have external cladding and all meet current fire safety requirements.
Our two Cambridge blocks, Gilbert and Huxley Houses, have six storeys and were built in 2013. The top floors are of a stepped in ‘top hat’ design on an otherwise concrete and brick building. This part of the building was designed with cladding. There is also a further limited amount of cladding to the refuse bin store area.
Samples of this cladding were tested as part of the government’s recent review to assess its combustibility. The results of this testing confirmed that the cladding is flammable but has fire retardant properties. These findings are in line with the manufacture’s specification and are consistent with the approved design specification for the building.
bpha is working with the Cambridge Fire and Rescue Service and undertook a further building inspection concluding that this small amount of cladding does not pose an unacceptable risk for the building or the people who live within it.
Gilbert and Huxley Houses are modern buildings that are very different from the type of construction that Grenfell Tower was. Whilst the small amount of cladding used is, with the benefit of hindsight, not ideal, it is not unsafe.
bpha has a dedicated Fire Officer and we conduct regular Fire Risk Assessments (FRA) in our high-rise blocks. These assessments are a key step in making our homes safer from the risk of fire and also ensures we are able to maintain compliance with the current legislation.
Over many years bpha has worked closely with the relevant Fire and Rescue Services within our areas of operation and are committed to ensuring that every bpha home meets the highest possible standards for safety and quality. During this recent period of uncertainty and concern we have engaged with as many residents of our high rise homes as possible and dropped letters and a bpha’s ‘Fire Safety in a high rise home’ brochure through every letter box. This brochure was developed by bpha in conjunction with Bedford Fire and Rescue Service.
If anyone has any concerns about fire safety at a bpha property then we can be contacted on 0330 100 0272.