Fire brigade issue new legal warning over fire safety in Camden council block
Exclusive: Residents did not know about enforcement action until CNJ told them
15 November, 2017 — By William McLennan
Council flats in Grafton Way
THE London Fire Brigade has ordered the Town Hall to make improvements at a block of flats after it was discovered fire safety laws were being broken.
Residents of 135 flats in Grafton Way, Fitzrovia, were dismayed to learn about the issue only when told by the New Journal this week. Charine John, chair of the tenants’ and residents’ association (TRA), said that fire safety at the block was a “long-standing concern.”
“We expect Camden to meet its obligations to residents without being compelled to act by the fire brigade and are disappointed that in the wake of the awful Grenfell tragedy this has not been the case,” she added.
Inspectors who visited Grafton Way after a fire in a bin store in September found the council had not acted on its own fire risk assessments. The Brigade also found:
* a “failure to provide adequate fire separation between floors” – meaning smoke and flames could spread through the building in the event of a fire;
* a failure to manage alarm systems;
* a failure “to provide and/or maintain adequate and clearly indicated emergency routes and exits”.
An enforcement notice was then sent to Camden Council warning that urgent action must be taken or it could be prosecuted. Residents told the New Journal that they had previously raised concerns over fire safety, including faulty alarms and lack of signs, but these issues had not been dealt with.
Resident David Hulse said: “Leaseholders have been paying towards fire improvement work for up to two years now, yet it is only after the fire brigade’s inspection that there has been any sign of Camden hiring any contractors to carry any improvements out. “It is now a rush job to meet the LFB’s enforcement demand.”
Ms John added last night (Wednesday), in a statement on behalf of the TRA, that they were “dismayed” that the council had “failed to inform all residents of this enforcement notice”. Listing complaints raised by residents, she said: “Fire alarms do not work properly, and often sound when there is no cause, and at such frequent intervals that residents now do not know whether they should be heeded or not.”
Contractor Morgan Sindall has carried out “intrusive surveys” of the building and work will begin in December.
A council spokesman said: “We have begun this important work at Grafton Way, which we were preparing to carry out prior to this instruction from London Fire Brigade, who we are in regular contact with and who have given us until next year to complete the work. “We are committed to achieving a new standard of resident safety across our housing.”