The latest update from Councillor Malcolm Grimston was received today with regards to the proposed retro-fitting of water sprinklers in 10+ storey blocks in the Wandsworth Borough Council ward.
From: Malcolm Grimston <email@example.com>
To: News from Councillor Malcolm Grimston <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, May 2, 2018 9:05 AM
Subject: High Rise newsletter
At the last Council meeting I raised a question concerning fire safety assessment – I reproduce the question and the ‘answer’ below (actually as usual the Cabinet Member for Housing made no attempt to answer the question). The most remarkable sentence, apart from it being made clear that the Conservatives intend to continue with the policy of forcing sprinklers into every room in our 10+ storey blocks, is this.
Had the journalist actually bothered to read the guidance he would have noticed that it recommended that “fire risk assessments should be reviewed regularly and when circumstances change” and that there was absolutely no requirement to complete new assessments.
This is the first very clear statement we have had that in the view of Wandsworth Council there was no need for new fire safety assessments after Grenfell because “circumstances” had not “changed”. This is of course what we have been saying all along – that Grenfell was to all intents and purposes irrelevant when it came to assessing fire risk in our unclad blocks, with their decades of success in containing flat fires safely.
- Incidentally, note the dig that our objections to sprinklers are ‘rather esoteric’(defined online as “intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialised knowledge or interest”), based on such obscure ideas as value for money, disruption, intrusion, the Council’s dreadful record on major works, the potential for damage if they go off when they shouldn’t … and their being entirely unnecessary, of course.
The battle continues!
By the way, did anyone get a chance to raise the issue with Conservative election candidates or their entourage (I gather they have been avoiding the high rise blocks in West Hill but there may be the odd rogue sighting!). It would be interesting to see if there were any promises of support for our position.
Councillor (Independent), West Hill Ward
Fire Safety Assessments: Question raised by Councillor Grimston to the Cabinet Member for Housing:
How many fire safety assessments were carried out in Wandsworth with regard to 10+ storey blocks of flats in 2017?
How does this compare with the guidance offered by LGA and others on the desired frequency of such assessments?
Given the growing opposition to the Council’s ‘one size fits all’ imposition of sprinkler systems in 10+ storey tower blocks, does the Cabinet Member believe that residents have a right to know why their individual block has become so much more dangerous since the last round of fire assessments found that sprinklers were not necessary?
Thank you for raising this question as it gives me the welcome opportunity to correct a recent article on this matter published by Inside Housing in which the journalist made the observation that Wandsworth Council had not completed any fresh Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) of its blocks since the fire at Grenfell Tower last June, implying that the Council was in some way negligent in not following the Local Government Association guidance that “tower blocks should be fire risk assessed every year”. Had the journalist actually bothered to read the guidance he would have noticed that it recommended that “fire risk assessments should be reviewed regularly and when circumstances change” and that there was absolutely no requirement to complete new assessments. I am pleased to confirm that following representation by the Council pointing out that the article was both wrong and irresponsibly alarmist it appears to have been taken down.
The Council takes its obligation around the management of fire risk seriously and in 2016 commissioned an independent consultant to complete new FRAs for all of its 1,300 purpose built blocks. Since the fire in Grenfell the FRAs to all of the high-rise blocks are being reviewed and when further guidance is issued new assessments will be commissioned but meanwhile I can confirm that they remain valid and fit for purpose. As the Councillor is fully aware since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower the whole approach to fire risk has changed and continues to change. Fire risk assessments were previously silent on the issues of sprinklers as they were on the presence or flammability of external cladding and insulation and I’m sure that this will be addressed in revised guidance. Despite the Councillor’s continued objection to the installation of sprinklers on rather esoteric statistical grounds the fact remains that sprinklers are the single most effective way of ensuring that fires do not spread in our blocks and as a consequence they will save lives and protect property.
Published by Peter West, 57 Sutherland Grove, for Malcolm Grimston
Please note that all information is provided on a best efforts basis and that readers should make their own efforts to review and assess the provided content.
To receive blog articles as they are uploaded please ‘follow’ the blog.
Email us at – email@example.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.
Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;
Or email your local Member of Parliament at;
For a different view of Roehampton, especially the Alton Estate