June 26, 2017

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UPDATE: Number of high-rises failing fire safety tests grows

Tests are taking place on the fire resistance of cladding on up to 600 buildings following the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington on 14 June.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said all buildings examined so far had failed the test.

Most concern

Councils were told to prioritise buildings they had most concern over.

Not all the buildings affected have so far been named but a list from the DCLG identifies 14 of the areas:

1. Camden – five buildings
2. Brent – one
3. Barnet – three
4. Hounslow – one
5. Islington – one
6. Lambeth – one
7. Wandsworth – two
8. Manchester – four
9. Norwich – one
10. Plymouth – three
11. Portsmouth – two
12. Doncaster – one
13. Sunderland – five
14. Stockton-on-Tees – three

Separately, cladding is to be removed from nine tower blocks in Salford, while Bootle said two buildings had cladding that failed tests.

The update came as Camden Council said it had told about 200 residents still refusing to vacate four of its tower blocks on the Chalcots estate that they “must leave” to allow improvement works to go ahead. The majority of the residents of the four buildings were evacuated on Friday night.

The cladding on the buildings in the Chalcots estate is similar to Grenfell Tower where the fire is feared to have killed 79 people.

Chalcots was refurbished between 2006 and 2009 by the firm, Rydon; the same firm that oversaw work at Grenfell Tower in 2015-16.

The government testing programme began on 21 June with the local authorities asked to submit cladding for examination.

Patrols

The Local Government Association (LGA) said some councils have introduced 24-hour warden patrols to mitigate the risk before cladding is removed.

It said in a statement: “Where cladding fails the test, this will not necessarily mean moving residents from tower blocks.

“In Camden, the decision to evacuate was based on fire inspectors’ concerns about a combination of other fire hazards together with the cladding.”

The LGA said it was advising councils still waiting for results of tests to prepare contingency plans “so they can take any measures needed quickly”.

Immediate testing

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the Grenfell Tower fire started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer within a flat on the fourth floor; the government has ordered immediate testing of the appliance.

Police said the fire had not been started deliberately and the speed with which the fire spread was “unexpected”.

Anyone who has a white Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP or graphite fridge freezer model number FF175BG have been advised to register their appliance with the manufacturer to receive any updates.

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