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SALFORD TOWER BLOCK FIRE FEARS AFTER TRAGIC LONDON BLAZE
 

Star date: 14th June 2017

RECENT PENDLETON HIGH RISE FIRE HIGHLIGHTS INADEQUACIES

"This is horrifying....I'm really scared now" Salford tower block resident

Last month, there was a fire at Whitebeam Court, one of the newly refurbished blocks managed by Pendleton Together, where escape routes were filled with choking smoke and six people required medical assistance.

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London this morning, Salix Homes have reassured tenants, City West Housing was already running a fire safety week but Pendleton Together have published nothing and haven't responded to a Salford Star inquiry.

Full details here...


City West tower block Eccles Whitebeam Court Pendleton
click image to enlarge

Last month, a resident with mental health problems attempted to burn down his flat in Whitebeam Court in Pendleton. The subsequent blaze was attended by eight fire engines, the escape route was filled with smoke and six people needed medical assistance.

The June newsletter from the Whitebeam Community Association to tenants was scathing...

"Thankfully nobody was hurt" it stated "...Questions must be asked and again be assured that these questions are being asked. One question would be that, if the fire had spread (which the Fire Brigade must have thought a possibility at some point, or 8 fire engines would not have been sent), why was our only escape route filled with blinding and choking smoke, 6 of our people required medical assistance?

"When the smoke and gasses reached the top floor the Fire Brigade had no way of venting it off and had to ask a tenant to open his front door and all windows, then all the smoke from the fire, trapped inside the escape route was vented through his flat?" it added "Not much point in having a smoke door?"

Apparently the refurbishment, which included similar cladding to Grenfell Tower in London - scene of this morning's horrendous fire - was signed off by Salford City Council... "All the problems we predicted came true" a Whitebeam resident told the Salford Star.

In London, the Grenfell Action Group alerted residents to fire and safety hazards. In 2013 a newsletter stated that "there has indeed been significant negligence, which has been ongoing for a considerable length of time..."

The newsletter ended: "There is something seriously wrong with a bureaucracy that is incapable of reacting to serious negligence, affecting fire safety in a densely occupied tower block, with any sense of urgency...Does anyone actually give a damn?" (see here)

In 2013 the Salford Star also ran an article about potential fire risks in blocks which were then managed by Salix Homes, with residents saying that the housing company had 'ignored warnings of "substantial" fire risks from its own surveys for at least five years' (see here).

Since then, these, and most of the blocks in Salford, have been refurbished by Salix, Pendleton Together and City West Housing with new cladding similar to that used in Grenfell Tower, although there has been no official statement yet by London authorities on the cause of the fire and its rapid engulfment of the block.

A resident who lives in a Salford high rise block and wishes to remain anonymous, contacted the Salford Star this morning...

"This is horrifying" he said "I'm really scared now. The block where I live is just like the one in London - recently refurbished with new external insulating cladding. Was that to blame? Is it flammable? How else did the whole building go up like a torch so quickly?

"We need external inspectors independent of Salix Homes, Pendleton Together and City West to conduct an immediate safety review of all Salford tower blocks" he added.

This morning, Salix Homes moved to reassure tenants...

"Our thoughts are with the victims and everyone affected by the tragic fire at the tower block in West London this morning" the company stated "We would like to reassure all our tenants living in our high rise buildings across Salford that all our tower blocks meet strict Fire Safety Regulations and we carry out regular inspections and risk assessments, alongside fire safety assessors, to ensure the safety of our customers.

"Several of our tower blocks have recently undergone multi-million pound improvements and this includes the enhancement of fire safety measures and we also provide and fit smoke detectors in all our properties" it added

"The safety of our customers is our utmost priority and we are confident that the safety procedures we have in place will keep our customers safe" it explained "However, following the tragic incident in London, we will now be working with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and Greater Manchester Housing Providers to look at any lessons that can be learnt."*

Meanwhile, City West Housing was already in the middle of a Fire Safety Week this morning, with a fire safety community officer scheduled to meet tenants today at Old Lane Resource Centre between 1pm - 3pm (see here).

However, Pendleton Together has so far published nothing for its residents. Nor did the company respond to a Salford Star request for it to reassure its tenants.



*Salix Homes added to its statement: "We recently issued a new Home Safety Guide offering advice and guidance for customers in the event of a fire. If you would like a copy of the booklet, or require your smoke alarms to be tested or fitted, please contact us on 0800 218 2000 or email enquiries@salixhomes.org "

For general advice on fire safety in the home, you can also contact Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service on 0800 555 815.


Update: 7pm: Pendleton Together has finally issued a statement...

"We work in partnership with our colleagues in the local fire services and with professional fire risk assessors to make sure our procedures reflect best practice and are kept up-to-date.

"We would like to reassure all our tenants and nearby residents that we are confident that everything possible is  done to ensure they are protected and kept safe.  We are, however, as a precaution, double checking all of our procedures today and, over the coming weeks, will be re-issuing our fire safety advice to tenants.  We would ask that, in the meantime, they take note of the procedures in their accommodation and contact us immediately if they are concerned or want that advice to be re-issued.

"In the coming months we expect there will be much reflection on the cause and response to the fire in London.  We will be paying close attention to that and reacting to any lessons learned to modify our procedures if required and will advise tenants if we do this."

**Update: 15th June - Salford Tower Block Cladding 'Contributes To Fire Growth' state experts - click here

ALL THAT GLITTERS wrote
at 15:06:36 on 15 June 2017
Well as I say to all high rise blocks owners you can put glitter on a shit but at the end of the day it's still a shit!

Wrote wrote
at 11:07:21 on 15 June 2017
Has anyone considered how many corridor fire doors within Ex-Salford Council Tower Blocks are still in a state of disrepair, and for those Tower Blocks who have a gas fitted eco pod system strapped to the top of the roof, have the housing associations considered the dangers of an explosion if a fire hit the top floor? After reading the fire safety laws on Tower Blocks I have now read that there should be no gas powered heating systems whatsoever in Tower Blocks, and strapping a gas main to the outside flammable cladding system still does not meet those fire safety regulations. This needs to be investigated!!!!

wrote
at 06:56:29 on 15 June 2017
Just this morning I was chatting to a Client about the cost of replacement smoke detection in line with manufacturers specified date stamped date on detector!!! Total detection in residential building 9 detectors in a 3 storey building 4 to replace , the Arguement comming back not to replace those detectors from the client ....it's just a recommendation,its expensive ,I'll have to see a director we are getting lots of invoices,we've just got your word....etc etc , i let the client fizzle out with the dross , i reminded her that I had 20plus years in fire detection I was qualified most residential block managers haven't got a clue

Tony Ormonde wrote
at 06:56:11 on 15 June 2017
Yet again, thanks to Salford Star for a very fast response to this issue of fire safety in High Rise blocks. As for "fire safety" week in City West blocks that you refer to, not surprisingly I know nothing about it and have to guess that the fire safety actions, activities from City West, are for a select invited number of tenants and not for all of us in these blocks.Just another PR stunt.Will be in touch soon about this.

Worried Tenant wrote
at 19:29:14 on 14 June 2017
I am a tenant of one of the recently refurbished tower blocks in Pendleton. I find it disconcerting, to say the least, that (as far as I can tell) the cladding panels used on my block are the same make as ones that failed so badly at Grenfell Tower. But are they the exact same type? Reynobond aluminium composite panels are manufactured by a company called Arconic. It seems they come in a few varieties. One has a basic polyethylene (plastic) core. There are rumours that this is the type used on Grenfell Tower. Other types of Reynobond panels have cores which are described as 'fire-retardant' and 'non-combustible'. Which type of panels were used on the Pendleton blocks? Here's a link: https://www.arconic.com/aap/europe/en/product_category.asp?cat_id=1843 The companies responsible for carrying out the work are Keepmoat and Simco External Framing Solutions. A little reassurance would be good right now.

joe onell wrote
at 18:03:58 on 14 June 2017
Was it me or did we have a Nob head writing a few weeks ago having a dig at the fire service, you know they have it easy, sad we have to see what happened today to see the reality of the job description. I wonder would the star reader fancy the job of pulling out the chard dead or the jumpers. I can't thank the emergency services enough, under paid in crap jobs.

Dave wrote
at 15:17:22 on 14 June 2017
On a case like this great consideration has to be given to what the fire service will say in their report after this fire.There has to be a report and these people know what they are talking about. Years ago ,dealing with licsensed premisises, I had to deal with fire brigade fire prevention personnel. I always found them to be the most knowledgeable in this field, and most helpful , more so than building control officers from the local council. The report of this incident should be made available to the residents of that block and those affected by it, not just sent off to salix homes so they can file it away.I have long suspected that some of these cladding systems ,although they should consist of none combustable materials,could induce a chimney effect in the event of a fire if they were not installed correctly. The thing is, once installed, you have to take them to pieces again to prove they have been installed correctly . The Salford Star must push to print this report. The public need to know.Kind regards Dave

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