Chesterfield Borough Council reassures residents after Grenfell Tower fire

17 people are confirmed to have died in the fire at Grenfell Tower.
17 people are confirmed to have died in the fire at Grenfell Tower.

Chesterfield Borough Council is offering assurance to residents in council houses and flats following Wednesday's tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London.

So far, 17 people are confirmed to have died in the fire, which broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning. A number of people are still missing.

In response to calls received from tenants, Chesterfield Borough Council has confirmed that all cladding installed on council housing is safe and of a different type and construction method to that reported to be on the tower block.

Checks by housing officers have also confirmed that:

* All blocks of flats have had recent fire risk assessments carried out by independent fire risk assessors.

* All flats are inspected monthly for fire safety measures by housing neighbourhood rangers. This includes checks that fire doors and other prevention measures are working correctly and the removal of any flammable materials which residents or visitors have left in corridors or communal areas.

* Working with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, they have installed sprinkler systems in sheltered housing schemes and portable misting systems in individual properties where there is a higher risk of fire.

Councillor Helen Bagley, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for homes and customers, said: “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of everyone involved in the devastating fire at the Grenfell Court tower block in London.

“Although we don’t have any high rise tower blocks in Chesterfield and it is too early to speculate on the causes of what happened we will ensure that any lessons learnt from this terrible incident are applied to our own housing stock.

“We have an excellent working relationship with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue to ensure that all council properties comply with, and in most cases exceed, required fire safety standards.

“However, as Chesterfield’s biggest landlord with 9,400 properties, we are not complacent and will be talking again with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue to see if there is any new advice or guidance that we can implement, learning the lessons from this latest tragedy.”

In recent years Chesterfield Borough Council has carried out a multi-million pound upgrade of council homes which has included the installation of external cladding to improve insulation and damp prevention measures.

The cladding used is Class O rated, which means it cannot be set alight. The cladding is physically fitted to the house or flat and then rendered over, which adds another fire prevention layer. It also means that there is no void left behind the cladding.

Alex Johnson, area manager responsible for community safety with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue said: “We are truly devastated to hear of the fire at Grenfell Tower and our thoughts continue to be with everyone affected by the tragedy and also our emergency service colleagues dealing with such a devastating and complex incident.

“Thankfully fires of this type are rare however such an incident does cause alarm and raise concerns with people living in similar buildings.

“High-rise buildings are designed to resist fire, stop the spread of smoke and provide a safe means of escape. Most fires don’t spread more than one or two rooms.

“I would like to assure everybody that Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service carries out regular inspections of blocks of flats, and works closely with Chesterfield Borough Council to ensure all housing stock complies with current fire safety regulations.”

Alex added: “It is essential that people know what to do in the event of a fire so that they can protect themselves and their families. This is particularly important for the more vulnerable members of our communities, such as the over 60’s and people with mobility issues.

“Blocks of flats will have their own fire plan and occupants should make themselves aware of the specific advice that relates to the building in which they live. If there is a fire inside your flat our advice is to alert all the people in your flat and leave, closing doors behind you. You should follow your escape plan and if there is lots of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air should be clearer. Always use the stairs rather than the lift and call 999 as soon as you are in a safe place.

“If there is a fire elsewhere in the building, then the structure of your flat – the walls, floors and doors - are designed to give you a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes’ protection from a fire. If there is a fire in your building, but not inside your own home, then you are usually safer to say in your flat unless the heat or smoke from the fire is affecting you. If you stay put, you should still call 999.

“Following any outcomes from the review into this tragic incident, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service will work with all local authority and private housing providers to ensure all new guidance is complied with.”