Following the recent tragic Grenfell Tower fire, there is understandably a lot of concern about other high rise flats around the country. Cardiff Council has put together the most up to date information about fire safety in their Council high rise buildings, and it is available below.
Cardiff Council has 9 high rise blocks of flats:
• Lydstep Flats, Gabalfa (3 blocks)
• Beech House & Sycamore House, Holybush Estate Whitchurch
• Loudoun and Nelson House, Butetown
• Channel View, Grangetown
• The Maelfa, Llanedeyrn
The highest block that the Council has is 16 storeys, with most being 11 storeys high.
A Fire Safety Management Plan is in place and, in accordance with this plan, fire risk assessments are carried out on all Council high rise blocks annually and these assessments are reviewed every 6 months. All fire risk assessments are carried out by properly qualified staff.
Caretakers carry out fire safety checks on a daily basis. All communal areas are kept “sterile” clear of any objects which could catch fire or help a fire to spread and any tenants’ belongings in the communal areas are also removed. These actions are designed to help prevent the spread of fire.
Each high rise block is built to be fire proof and able to contain a fire within the individual flat where fire breaks out. Extensive checks take place each time high rise flats become vacant to ensure the compartmentation between flats is suitable and sufficient to stop fire spreading between flats.
All flats have smoke detectors fitted and these are checked annually. A gas safety check is also carried out annually. Where tenants do not allow access, court orders are sought to gain access to the property and carry out checks.
The Compliance Team have a good working relationship with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and have carried out training exercises at most of the high rise flats.
The Fire Service has advised that the safest place for residents during a fire is their own home, unless their property is directly affected by the fire. They will arrange evacuation if needed. Since recent events Cardiff Council officers have made contact with the Fire Service and they have confirmed that their advice remains the same. A letter will be sent to all tenants to reassure them and to further clarify the safety measures in place and evacuation arrangements.
Council high rise have sprinklers in the bin chutes which are a particular risk, but not elsewhere in the building. The need for sprinklers will be discussed further with the Fire Service.
All fire safety procedures will of course be reviewed in the light of the tragic events at Grenfell tower and lessons learnt will be monitored as more information becomes available.
Over Cladding of Council Housing Stock
None of Cardiff Council’s high rise blocks have been over clad in recent times. Over cladding did take place more than 20 years ago and market-leading, fire retardant materials, such as rockwool, were used. A review is currently taking place of the proposed scheme to over clad the Maelfa and Channel View and we will carry out an independent survey of the over cladding at all other Council high rise blocks to ensure it meets safety legislation.
Low rise and houses
A high specification has been set for the recent over cladding of privately owned and Council houses and low rise blocks. The External Wall Insulation (EWI) products applied are inert materials (low risk / non-flammable) made up of the following components:
• Insulation Boards. (These have undergone full scale fire testing by the British Board of Agreement (BBA) and achieved BBA certification at Class 0 – (highest standard and lowest risk).
• An exterior cement based coating, with either a render or a pebble dash finish.
The systems are applied DIRECTLY to the substrate (wall) of a property. No cavity is left between the old surface of the property and the EWI system and the Insulation Board material is entirely encapsulated with no void areas.