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6th Dec, 2021

Solihull Community Housing answer questions over fire safety after Grenfell Tower incident

Emily Fish 28th Jun, 2017 Updated: 28th Jun, 2017

“All our high rise cladding is made of Rockwool – a fire retardant substance that cannot catch fire.

“It has been installed correctly and is not the same type of cladding as used at Grenfell Tower.”

That is the message from Solihull Community Housing (SCH) to address concerns regarding fire-safety in the borough’s high-rise blocks following the tragic Grenfell Tower incident.

In a message, released, this week, SCH answers questions about concerns over cladding, the use of sprinklers, emergency services and its ‘Stay Put’ policy.

It said: “All our high rise cladding is made of Rockwool – a fire retardant substance that cannot catch fire.

“It has been installed correctly and is not the same type of cladding as used at Grenfell Tower.”

According to the housing group, there was no requirement to install sprinklers in high-rises at the time of construction.

Instead, the tower blocks have dry risers, which allow the fire service to access water easily on each floor, and fire doors throughout the building including all front doors to every flat.

SCH added: “Over the coming weeks we will be ensuring that all aspects of fire safety are reconsidered in light of the emerging technical advice from any investigation into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. This will include consideration of sprinklers.”

In regards to fire regulations, SCH said all fire regulations were met at the time the towers were built – and annual inspections are carried out, alongside weekly safety checks.

And said its estate assistants walk the stairwells from top to bottom bi-weekly and cleaning teams are trained to report any obstructions.

SCH also addressed concerns which suggest parked cars could block the fire service’s access to the building.

It said after speaking to the fire service, residents can be assured that the fire team will do whatever is necessary to reach the building.

The ‘Stay Put’ policy also raised questions among residents, and SCH responded: “Our ‘Stay Put’ policy remains in force in our high rise buildings. This ensures stairwells remain clear for fire crews to enter the building and tackle a fire.

“In April, 2013, we had a fire in the stairwell at Merton House. Tenants stayed put and the fire was extinguished with no injuries to tenants or damage to flats.”

The group added: “Our high rises are monitored 24/7 which means any fires can be spotted quickly.

“We will continue to meet with West Midlands Fire Service and lessons from the Grenfell Tower tragedy will be learnt.

“Your safety and well-being is of paramount importance to us.

“We will provide further fire safety updates in the future. SCH will soon be holding a special Board meeting to discuss the fire.”

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