Issue - meetings

Grenfell Tower Inquiry - Impact on Enfield and Fire Safety

Meeting: 10/11/2022 - Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Item 4)

4 Grenfell Tower Inquiry - Impact on Enfield and Fire Safety pdf icon PDF 554 KB

The report details the impact on the Council of the Grenfell Inquiry around structure and fire safety.


The Acting Executive Director, Place, Joanne Drew, presented the report and summarised the findings of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry which had concluded that day.


Following the proposal of the Chair, the meeting paused to remember those who had lost their lives in 2017 as a result of the traumatic event in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.


Members noted the role the Council played in housing across the Borough and that all the Council’s houses were safe. The Council had levels of influence but no control over privately rented accommodation, some areas were a cause of concern. The Council met monthly with the London Fire Brigade (LFS).


In response to concerns raised by Members regarding the existing tower blocks in the Borough with single staircases, which had been a critical issue of the Grenfell Tower fire, Officers advised that all buildings had been assessed on an individual basis, in consultation with the LFS. Those with single staircases would be prioritised in the event of a fire, where fire appliances would be despatched as a matter of priority.


All fire and safety measures, including fire detection and sprinkler systems, were bespoke to each individual building were installed of the highest level.


The Acting Director of Investment and Resident Safety, Paul O’Donnell went on to advise that in some buildings it was possible to retrofit a second staircase or other fire safety measures, including sprinkler systems. Where possible, alternative secondary exit routes were identified, however, the condition of some of Enfield Council’s ageing housing stock prevented this. Some residents, when contacted by the Council regarding the retrofit of a sprinkler system, had declined the offer. Not all properties were suitable for retrofitting of the fire prevention, detection, or sprinkler systems. Some residents and/or leaseholders were not always co-operative and allow access to their properties. Vulnerable residents in tall buildings were identified and risk assessments undertaken. Considerable investment would be required for the Council to deliver decent homes.


Members acknowledged that the Council promoted access to building safety information and communicated with residents on major works programmes and proactively raised awareness of fire safety. However, they were of the view that significantly more promotion and interaction with residents was needed to ensure that residents were enabled to make informed decisions regarding the options available to then in terms of the type of retro fitting fire safety measures, including sprinkler systems. The Council must identify the best pathways to reach out, communicate, consult, engage, inform, and empower to enable residents to exercise their options, particularly high-risk residents with individual concerns.


Officers, responding to questions from Members, advised that the standard approach in high rise building was to ‘Stay Put’ which was regularly communicated to residents. Building design facilitated this approach with fire containment, one hour fire doors and safe areas. There had been cultural changes within the industry regarding the importance of fire safety in new and existing buildings which had led to the development of fire safety equipment, record keeping, culpability, together with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4