Greenwich

Fire safety in high-rise buildings

Frequently Asked Questions

Do high-rise buildings managed by the Royal Borough have a Fire Risk Assessment?

Yes. All the Royal Borough's high-rise buildings have a current and up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment in place and comply with current fire safety standards. Buildings are managed as high-rise if they are six or more storeys high. The Royal Borough takes fire safety extremely seriously and all our buildings are compliant with fire safety regulations.

When are Fire Risk Assessments reviewed?

All our buildings are compliant with fire safety regulations. Each Fire Risk Assessment is reviewed annually or more frequently, as required.

Have Fire Risk Assessments been reviewed again because of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower?

Yes. To provide additional reassurance to our tenants, all Fire Risk Assessments of high-rise buildings have been reviewed again. The Royal Borough very much appreciates that residents living in Council-owned properties, in particular high-rise buildings, may have a number of concerns about their accommodation. We would like to reassure you that the Royal Borough takes fire safety extremely seriously and all our buildings are compliant with fire safety regulations.

What do Fire Risk Assessments cover?

Fire Risk Assessments cover all aspects of the fire safety arrangements for the communal areas of the building including fire safety signage, fire doors and door closers, fire compartmentalisation (which prevents fire and smoke spreading within the building) and the operation of automatic opening vents and emergency lighting. Fire Risk Assessments also check that escape routes are clear and free of obstruction and the access arrangements for the emergency services.

Who carries out Fire Risk Assessments for the Royal Borough?

Fire Risk Assessments are carried out by trained and experienced Fire Risk Assessors from the Royal Borough's own dedicated Fire Safety Team. The London Fire Brigade also carry out their own checks of the fire arrangements in buildings sometimes jointly with Royal Borough fire officers.

What happens if a Fire Risk Assessor identifies a building defect?

Fire Risk Assessors raise repairs to be carried out by Royal Borough staff or by specialist contractors.

How many blocks in the Royal Borough have external cladding and what is it made of?

There are six blocks with external cladding. The cladding used on these tower blocks is 'FunderMax Exterior Cladding Panels'. They are high pressure laminated panels composed of cellulose fibres impregnated with synthetic resin. The product meets Class 'O' categorisation which means it meets current fire safety standards and minimises the spread of fire.

Are any Royal Borough high-rise buildings clad with the same material used to clad Grenfell Tower?

No. None of the Royal Borough's buildings are clad with the Reynobond aluminium cladding system. The cladding systems used by the Royal Borough complies with Class 'O' requirements of the Building Regulations (2010) that apply in England and Wales and has British Board of Agrément (BBA) fire safety certification.

Have any Royal Borough high-rise buildings been refurbished by the same contractors involved with the Grenfell Tower refurbishment?

No. The Royal Borough has not used the same contractors involved with the Grenfell Tower refurbishment.

I live in a building that has external wall insulation. Is this the same as cladding?

No. External wall insulation should not be considered in the same category as cladding. On blocks, external wall insulation comprises a non-combustible 'Rockwool' insulation layer which is encapsulated within a non-combustible render finish and doesn't have air gaps. The external wall insulation used by the Royal Borough complies with Class 'O' requirements of the building regulations (2010) that apply in England and Wales and has British Board of Agrément (BBA) fire safety certification.

Will the Royal Borough review and update its Fire Risk Assessments after the investigation into the fire at Grenfell Tower?

Yes. The Royal Borough will comply with any recommendations that arise from the investigation into the fire at Grenfell Tower.

Are regular checks of communal areas undertaken to ensure they are fire safe?

Yes. Standards of housekeeping within the common/communal areas of buildings are checked on a continual basis by Caretaking and other Royal Borough staff to ensure standards are maintained. We also want to work with you to ensure that escape routes remain clear of combustible materials and obstruction and that fire doors operate as they should. Additional checks are also being carried out at this time.

Are sprinkler systems compulsory in high-rise residential buildings?

Under the building regulations in England and Wales, new residential blocks over 30m high must be fitted with sprinklers to meet Approved Document B Standards. However, it is not mandatory to retro-fit sprinkler systems to existing buildings of this type, nor has the London Fire Brigade recommended to the Royal Borough that this should take place. However, the Royal Borough will act upon any revised guidance that is issued following the fire at Grenfell Tower.

What should residents of high-rise buildings do in the event of a fire breaking out?

There are fire action notices in the common/communal areas of every high-rise building which advise residents what to do in the event of a fire. The latest advice and guidance from the London Fire Brigade is unchanged and continues to be 'Stay Put' unless the London Fire Brigade tell you to evacuate. In the case of our high-rise buildings, they are all purpose constructed with fire compartmentalisation built-in to the structure of the buildings in order to control the spread of fire and smoke which should ensure that any fire remains in the particular dwelling in which it started. The 'Stay Put' policy that is in place provides protection for all residents including those who have disabilities or limited mobility. The Royal Borough will comply with any recommendations that arise from the investigation into the fire at Grenfell Tower.

The Council is investigating any additional measures it can take to enhance our fire safety procedures even further. High-rise buildings do not have fire alarms in the communal/common areas because an alarm sounding is likely to trigger an evacuation and residents not staying-put, putting residents at greater risk. Fire alarms are not mandatory in high-rise residential buildings and no Royal Borough high-rise building has a fire alarm in the common/communal areas. However all Royal Borough-owned residential dwellings are automatically fitted with a smoke alarm at each change of tenancy.

Residents are advised to familiarise themselves with the emergency evacuation procedures and escape routes that apply to their own building.

Does the Royal Borough upgrade its high-rise buildings?

Yes. The Royal Borough has upgraded all its high-rise buildings in recent years as part of a comprehensive programme of fire safety enhancements put in place in consultation with the London Fire Brigade. These upgrades include:

  • new front entrance doors to dwellings that automatically close and provide 60 minutes fire and smoke protection
  • new or upgraded fire doors to all common/communal areas and escape routes
  • fire stopping between flats and common areas to limit the spread of smoke and fire
  • the installation of enhanced emergency lighting
  • redecoration of internal common/communal areas with finishes that comply with 'Class O' of the building regulations in England and Wales to minimise the spread of fire
  • the installation of Automatic Opening Ventilation (AOVs) to allow smoke to vent from internal communal areas
  • the renewal of fire signage and directional signage
  • the development of an enhanced recording system for the maintenance records for dry risers and AOVs.

Not all enhancements are recommended for each high-rise building and actions are prioritised and carried out as appropriate.

Are any Royal Borough high-rise buildings of the same 'Large Panel System' construction type as the former tower at Ronan Point, Newham?

The seven ten-storey towers at the Morris Walk Estate are of a 'Large Panel System' design. However, all seven towers were strengthened shortly after the Ronan Point tragedy and none of the towers have a gas supply. The demolition of the Morris Walk Estate is due to start in 2020.

What buildings are managed as high-rise buildings by the Royal Borough?

Buildings are managed as high-rise if they are more than six or more storeys high. The following buildings are managed as high-rise:

  • Azile Everitt House 1-74
  • Belson Road 18-41
  • Belson Road 42-64
  • Beryl House 1-43
  • Bingham Point 1-42
  • Bloomfield Road 100 (1-31)
  • Bloomfield Road 98 (1-31)
  • Bostall Lane 140-202
  • Brentwood House 1-43
  • Carew House 1-26
  • Chesterford House 1-43
  • Claymill House 1-91
  • Coldharbour Crest 1-42
  • Crystal House 1-44
  • Darnall House 1-20
  • Denmark House 1-40
  • Eardley Point 1-42
  • Edge Hill 38-156
  • Egremont House 1-50
  • Ellison House 1-50
  • Elliston House 1-90
  • Elmley Street 46-224 Evens
  • Elsinore House 1-40
  • Eynsham Drive 184-258 Evens
  • Frances Street 179-285 Odds
  • Frances Street 287-393 Odds
  • Frances Street 395-497 Odds
  • Frances Street 71-177 Odds
  • Frederick House 1-40
  • Galena House 1-42
  • Gavestone Road 11-30
  • Gavestone Road 138-157
  • Gilbourne Road 81-123
  • Gilbourne Road 125-167
  • Gildersome Street 12-58 Evens
  • Glyndon Road 177-359 Odds
  • Hastings House 1-89
  • John Wilson Street 59a-73f Odds
  • John Wilson Street 75a-89f Odds
  • Jutland House 1-40
  • Kingsman Street 1-99 Odds
  • Kingsman Street 2-48 Evens
  • Kirkham Street 21-67 Odds
  • Lawson House 1-56 Evens
  • Lolland House 1-40
  • Mabbett House 1-87
  • Mabel Polley House 1-37
  • Maitland Close 19-42
  • Marble House 1-43
  • Maribor 25-54
  • Milne House 1-36
  • Nightingale Heights 2-186
  • Nightingale Place 130-147
  • Nightingale Vale 188-222
  • Nightingale Vale 284-346
  • Ormsby Point 1-42
  • Passfield House 1-30
  • Petrie House 1-51
  • Pippenhall 1-42
  • Pitmaston House 1-48
  • Plantagenet House 1-56
  • Ravine Grove 18-64 Evens
  • Ravine Grove 9-19 Odds
  • Robert Street 1a-21d
  • Robert Street 90-176 Evens
  • Ruegg House 1-66
  • Samuel Street 125-237 Odds
  • Sandham Point 1-42
  • Shenfield House 1-43
  • Sovereign House 1-49
  • Sowerby Close 1-36
  • Sowerby Close 37-73
  • Sowerby Close 75-110
  • St Domingo House 1-100
  • Strongbow Crescent 2-72 Evens
  • Strongbow Crescent 74-144 Evens
  • Tattersall Close 1-80
  • The Oaks 1-84
  • Thornham Street 1-70
  • Tom Smith Close 1-24
  • Tom Smith Close 25-48
  • Tom Smith Close 49-72
  • Topham House 1-24
  • Valleyside 1-27
  • Viking House 1-40
  • Villas Road 113-199 Odds
  • Villas Road 233-319 Odds
  • Walpole Place 1-87
  • Warner House 1-48
  • Well Hall Road 381-403d Odds
  • Westcombe Court 1-64
  • Winchester House 1-43
  • Wordsworth House 1-111
  • Zealand House 1-40

Do the fire safety rules and building regulations apply to all organisations with high-rise residential buildings?

Yes. The fire safety rules and the building regulations that apply to the Royal Borough also apply to other local authorities in England and Wales including the providers of other residential programmes and developers.

When does the Royal Borough normally fit smoke alarms in its accommodation?

Smoke alarms are fitted whenever a property becomes void or there is a change of tenancy. If a smoke alarm is already fitted, it is tested again to make sure it is working properly.

Where are smoke alarms normally fitted in Royal Borough accommodation?

In houses and maisonettes, a smoke alarm is fitted on each floor. In flats, a smoke alarm is fitted in the hallway.

I live in Royal Borough accommodation but I do not have a smoke alarm fitted. What should I do?

If you don't have a working smoke alarm contact the Royal Borough's Contact Centre on 020 8921 8900 and we will arrange to fit one free of charge.

I am a tenant or leaseholder of a Royal Borough residential building and I have a security gate or grille in front of a door or window. Who should I contact to arrange removal?

The Royal Borough will remove gates and grilles and dispose of them free of charge. Contact the Fire Safety hotline on 020 8921 6383 and we will arrange to remove them.

If you have any immediate concerns, you can call the Royal Borough's Tenancy Services team on 020 8921 6383 during office hours.

You can also find further fire safety information on the London Fire Brigade's website or by emailing fire-safety@royalgreenwich.gov.uk