Fire safety in Lewisham schools in light of the Grenfell Tower fire

The tragic consequences of the Grenfell Tower fire have raised concerns about fire safety for everyone. Therefore we have set out the work we are doing to ensure our schools are safe below:
External cladding review
Although the London Fire Brigade have yet to confirm what caused the fire at Grenfell Tower to spread so quickly, it would appear that the composition of the external cladding and its installation played a significant role. Therefore we have been working with our colleagues in the School Capital Delivery team, our Employers Agents/Architects and the Local Education Partners to undertake an urgent review of our recently built or refurbished schools to;

  • Identify all school buildings where external cladding is installed,
  • Establish what external cladding materials have been used
  • Carry out a technical desktop review of this information with particular regard to fire
    risk and to advise us on the next steps, including whether intrusive tests are required (i.e. do we need to take off a panel(s) and have further tests completed and do we think any materials require to be replaced

In relation to our PFI facility managed schools the respective SPVs have confirmed that they are content with the initial reviews undertaken, with regards to the extent and nature of any cladding used.

Existing wood cladding

Some schools have raised concerns with their existing timber cladding, it is well documented that the surface spread of flame across timber is negligible along as the subsequent treatment to this cladding has not raised its flammability. Therefore schools need to ensure that water based paints with a Class ‘O’ surface spread are used, if the timber is a natural finish then a treatment with a clear finish of fire retardant will suffice.

Fire risk procedures
All schools in Lewisham have automatic fire detection within their fire alarms and carry out regular fire drills. In response to recent events many have confirmed to the authority that the buildings are evacuated and all pupils, staff and visitors have assembled in a place of safety within accepted time frames.
All maintained schools have the responsibility to have fire risk assessments in place which are school-led. These are live documents and are linked to the fire evacuation strategy (covering identification of key escape routes, action on discovering a fire, action on hearing the fire alarm, calling the fire brigade, personal emergency evacuation plans, places of assembly and roll call, fire wardens/marshals, firefighting equipment provided, training required, liaison with emergency services etc). I would strongly recommend that your fire risk assessments are reviewed and any actions within the action plan are addressed without any undue delay. Please ensure your staff are familiar with the fire risk assessments, your school fire strategy and staff training up to date.

Building height

We have a few school buildings of more than three storeys with cladding in Lewisham and we are working with technical advisers to review those buildings that are constructed with external cladding systems as stated above.
Fire safety escape routes
School buildings are provided with fire compartments to limit the spread of fire and to provide safe routes to evacuate the building. Well maintained and functioning fire doors are vital to ensure there are safe escape routes and are inherent within the fire compartmentalisation.
Fire alarms & sprinklers
All schools within this authority have automatic fire detection that will detect a fire and smoke and will sound the fire alarm. Sprinklers are provided in new schools where the risk warrants this, however sprinklers are not lifesaving but will limit property damage, the reason for this is that sprinklers provided in schools are not fast reacting and that they will only operate after the fire alarm has activated, by this time occupants should be out of the school.

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Cladding to be removed from first two buildings in Lewisham

Lewisham Council and Lewisham Homes have ordered the removal of cladding from two buildings in New Cross following advice from the London Fire Brigade.
The two buildings are:

· 1–48 Hatfield Close, SE14

· 49–96 Hatfield Close, SE14

Contact details for affected residents

Lewisham Homes has written to all affected residents who live in the buildings about the cladding removal work and has a dedicated team to answer questions by phone: 0800 028 2 028 and email: housingmanagement@lewishamhomes.org.uk

Additional fire safety measures

Additional fire safety measures are being introduced to the properties this week, including a 24-hour fire warden service.

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham said, ‘Following the results of government fire safety tests, we have ordered the removal of external cladding from two buildings in New Cross. I am satisfied, on the advice of Lewisham Homes and London Fire Brigade, that that there is no need to evacuate any buildings. This will be done with the minimum of inconvenience to residents. Safety is our top priority and we are considering extending Lewisham Home’s sprinkler programme to include our tower blocks, guided by advice from the London Fire Brigade.” 

Andrew Potter, Chief Executive at Lewisham Homes said: “We are working closely with the London Fire Brigade to ensure residents are safe in their homes and will put 24 hour fire safety patrols into each of the buildings. While this important work takes place to remove cladding we will work hard to minimise the impact on the lives of people who live in the affected buildings.”

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR RESIDENTS IN THE AFFECTED PROPERTIES

 What should residents in the affected properties do?  

Lewisham Homes are working with the London Fire Brigade to ensure residents are safe in their homes. 24 hour fire patrols safety wardens will be deployed in each of the properties. If you live in one of the buildings where cladding is being removed and have a question please contact the call: 0800 028 2 028 or email: housingmanagement@lewishamhomes.org.uk

Lewisham Homes has written to every resident in the affected buildings to share fire safety advice and to invite them to a public meeting where they ask questions about the cladding removal cladding.

How can I reduce the risk of a fire in my property? 

Please follow the London Fire Brigade advice and install a smoke alarm, try and keep to one plug per socket and don’t leave your mobile phone charging overnight, especially on your bed or under your pillow.

What action has been taken in Lewisham on fire safety since Grenfell Tower fire?

Every Lewisham Home building has been risk assessed by a specialist contractor and as an extra precaution extra fire-safety inspections have been carried out. Lewisham Homes has also written to every resident with safety advice and staff have visited tower blocks to meet residents and answer their questions.  

Are the buildings where cladding is being removed safe to live in? 

Yes. On the advice of London Fire Brigade and Lewisham Homes there is no need to evacuate any buildings while the external cladding from two buildings is removed. We are working closely with Lewisham Homes and the London Fire Brigade to ensure residents are safe in their homes and will put 24 hour fire safety patrols into each of the buildings.

Grenfall Tower Tragedy

The tragic events of last Wednesday morning at Grenfall Tower couldn’t fail to move you, and my thoughts and best wishes are with both the victims, and the families of those who were hurt or killed in this national tragedy. Our thanks should also be given to those emergency services and volunteers who witnessed first hand this terrible story unfold, I hope they get all the aftercare and support they need.

As a local councillor, I and the rest of my colleagues in Lewisham Labour Group, are clear that we want to ensure the safety of our residents, either directly in Lewisham Homes or in partner Registered Social Landlords. Sir Steve Bullock – Mayor of Lewisham has been quick to task the relevant Executive Officers to move forward to ensure that we’re doing everything possible to mitigate risks. A letter detailing this actions is laid out below.


I and other councillors will be meeting with key Lewisham Council staff tonight to discuss further our response and to review any learning, as well as consider our political response — the UK needs to ensure that it upholds the highest standards of health and safety and in particular fire safety; there are going to be some serious questions from the public enquiry.

Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister Theresa May last week setting out his and the Parliamentary Labour Party initial questions about the Public Enquiry, support for families, and outlining the Labour Party’s gratitude to those Emergency Services who dealt with the aftermath.

How Lewisham is helping

Lewisham Council also hasn’t been inwards looking during this horrific incident, we sent a number of officers to Kensington and Chelsea to help their staff in running rest centres and supporting residents made homeless by the fire, and stand ready to offer further support along with our fellow boroughs across London. 

How you can help

Lewisham Council are also encouraging those residents who want to help to donate to the Grenfell Tower Appeal set up by the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation.

https://thekandcfoundation.com/donate/
https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/kandcfoundation/grenfell-tower

No trick or treat poster

Happy Hallowe’en from Lewisham Police but remember…

Original article here

At the start of what is traditionally one of the busiest periods of the year for incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour, Lewisham Borough Police along with Lewisham Council and the London Fire Brigade will be working to make sure Halloween and Bonfire Night are enjoyed responsibly and safely.

Operation Autumn Nights will see an increased visible policing presence around the borough to deter anti-social behaviour, disorder and crime. Lewisham Council staff are also busy identifying potential fire hazards so that they are removed immediately. The London Fire Brigade will be patrolling areas where there have been instances of street arson, e.g. people setting fire to bins, or dumped mattresses.

Lewisham Council will also be checking that shops are not selling fireworks illegally to minors, and also to ensure that the fireworks being sold meet safety standards.

Lewisham Police along with Lewisham Council are asking those that do decide to go trick or treating to respect the wishes of householders and to think about which doors they knock on, and not to knock where they see a ‘No Trick or Treat’ poster on display.

Householders can download the a ‘No Trick or Treat’ poster from this page

Sorry No Trick or Treat poster for display (232 KB)

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