Decision details

Fire Wardens at Edward Woods Estate

Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Housing

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

Fire wardens were engaged in July 2017 as part of an interim, precautionary, fire safety measure in the three tower blocks on the Edward Woods Estate (Poynter House, Norlands House and Stebbing House). The role of the fire wardens was primarily to monitor the top floor of the Towers, where as part of a historic major construction project, new flats had been built on to the existing structure. It was later found on inspection that these works compromised the fire safety measures built in as part of the original design intent for the main structure.

Works to rectify the fire safety weaknesses are now complete and it is proposed to remove the fire wardens. The Towers continue to be served by concierge staff trained in fire safety awareness on a 24/7 basis and receive weekly fire safety inspections by housing officers. A programme of fire safety enhancement works, including upgrading front entrance and lobby doors and improved smoke control ventilation, are scheduled to start in 2020.

Decision:

Approve Option 2 (5.2 of the report) phased removal (over 3 months) of the fire wardens that currently operate 24/7 in Poynter House, Stebbing House and Norland House:

·         Phase 1: commencing 30 September 2019 for 3 months, fire wardens scaled back from 24/7 to 11pm till 8am, 7 days a week

·         Phase 2: complete removal of fire wardens

Reasons for the decision:

The fire safety defects requiring the use of fire wardens as an interim safety measure have now been addressed. As independently reviewed by C.S Todd & Associates Ltd the fire wardens are no longer required as part of the fire safety strategy.

Alternative options considered:

Option 1

H&F can continue with the fire warden service, but it is unnecessary for providing safety to residents and has significant cost implications.

 

Option 2

Officers recommended the phased removal of fire wardens, as:

·         The Towers support a ‘Stay Put’ policy and do not differ from other towers in H&F.

·         An independent expert has reviewed the fire wardens considering the remedial works and current fire risk assessment and confirms that they are no longer required as part of the fire safety strategy.

·         The Towers continue to receive a weekly fire safety inspection by trained housing officers and the building is currently served by concierge staff 24/7 who are trained in fire safety and will undertake daily inspections.

·         The Edward Wood estate towers are not dissimilar to other general needs tower blocks, which do not have fire wardens, in the borough in terms of overall risk. The Towers do however have additional measures that enhance fire safety including two means of escape and a wet riser.

·         A programme of enhanced fire safety works, as set out in the Cabinet report approved 1 July 2019, including upgrading front and lobby doors and smoke control systems are planned for early 2020.

Publication date: 02/08/2019

Date of decision: 01/08/2019

Accompanying Documents: