Fire safety in Westminster

Statement from the Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Rachael Robathan

“With the tragic news of the Grenfell Tower block fire in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, our first thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who have been affected by this dreadful fire. We pay tribute to the heroic actions and bravery of our emergency services as they continue to respond to this horrendous incident.

“We are offering all the support we can to our neighbouring borough to help those affected in any practical way we can. This includes Westminster staff working in the respite centres, offering accommodation for those who have lost their homes and access to our housing options service to help with rehousing.

“We understand how concerned people will be about what has happened, which is why we want to reassure everyone that Westminster makes safety our number one priority. Whilst the investigation is likely to take some time to find out what happened, we have taken immediate action and today reviewed our fire risk assessment policy.

“We also want to make sure people know what to do in the event of a fire. The fire action plan for tower blocks is clearly displayed in the communal entrance of these buildings, which lets people know what to do in the event of a fire. This plan is tailored to each block and has been created with specific buildings in mind.

“Staff from CityWest Homes are out on the estates and will be available over the coming weeks to help answer any questions people may have. We are asking people with particular concerns about their building or who are unclear about what to do in the event of a fire to get in touch with us. We know that everyone’s thoughts will be with those affected by the fire and we will do all we can to help and support them.”

You can also visit the following pages on the CityWest Homes website for fire safety advice: www.cwh.org.uk/about-us/health-and-safety/fire-safety

Further advice and information is available on the London Fire Brigade website, specifically for people who live in flats and maisonettes at www.london-fire.gov.uk/know-the-plan.asp

The Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Nickie Aiken, said:

“Like all Londoners, I have been left truly shocked and appalled by the serious incident at Grenfell Tower. Our thoughts are with everyone who is affected by this horrendous fire. I want to pay tribute to the emergency services, who have rushed into a dangerous situation with just one thing on their mind – the safety of others. They do an incredible job.

“As this emergency continues to unfold, we have already been in contact with our neighbouring borough to offer whatever practical support and assistance they need. This includes accommodation for Grenfell Tower residents and any other help we can give.

“Whilst we will need to await the results of any investigation to see what lessons need to be learned, we have already taken action to review the fire safety regime in our tower blocks. The safety of residents in Westminster is our number one priority.”

Emergency number

If you are concerned about someone following the Grenfell Tower fire, please call The Metropolitan Police Casualty Bureau on 0800 096 1233.

https://www.met.police.uk/news/major-incident-kensington-north/

London Fire Brigade updates

The latest news on the Grenfell Tower fire is available from the London Fire Brigade website.

http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/latestincidents.asp

Donations

The Kensington and Chelsea Foundation has launched a Grenfell Tower appeal for those affected by the fire. Find out more on the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation website.

https://thekandcfoundation.com/donate/

Kensington and Chelsea Council thanks all those who have made generous donations of food, clothing and other items. They ask people to hold off any further donations as they have been inundated with useful items.

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/newsroom/all-council-statements/fire-grenfell-tower

Update on cladding on Westminster properties managed by CityWest Homes

We can confirm that Harley Facades supplied the over-cladding at six tower blocks on the Little Venice estate. However there are some differences between the cladding system installed at Little Venice and that which we understand was installed at Grenfell Tower.

The insulation material installed at Little Venice tower blocks has ‘Rockwool’ panels, which are non-flammable thermal panels directly fixed to the existing building fabric. This insulation is different to that which we understand was installed at Grenfell Tower.

The specification for the outer metal layer is believed to be similar but not identical and our records show that fire breaks are installed within the cladding system at various levels.

The over-cladding at Little Venice tower blocks fully complies with all building regulation requirements in relation to fire safety.

However, as a precaution, we are working with the Department for Communities and Local Government and independent specialists to carry out urgent checks on the cladding system and the way it was installed and these are already underway.

The safety of our residents is our number one priority and if there is any doubt arising from these checks, we will take immediate action.

We have been on site delivering letters to residents, taking their questions and providing reassurance.

Our records indicate that cladding installed on other Westminster City Council residential tower blocks is different to that which we understand was installed at Grenfell Tower.

We have visited all 41 of our tower blocks to review their fire evacuation plans and speak to residents about fire safety and will continue to do so over the coming days and weeks.


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