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Agenda item

Fire safety / Inspection Update

(Update from the Assistant Director Assets)


Councillor Maycock joined the meeting at 6.05pm.


The Chair introduced the Fire Safety / Inspection update and invited the Assistant Director, Assets to provide an update to the Committee.


The Assistant Director reported that:


  • Very little had changed in relation to our position since the last report to this Committee in December 2019 as we had largely been waiting on the Building Safety Bill.
  • However, we had continued to operate in a ‘Business As Usual’ mode.
  • Initial survey of buildings had been completed in order to provide Government Returns and to identify likely future programmes.  There were no incidents of note to report.
  • Despite COVID we had continued to undertake our regular programme of Fire Risk Assessments as planned and had completed any works arising from those assessments.
  • The programme of fire door replacements in the high rise blocks had now been agreed and will be rolled out. This was delayed initially as there had been a major shake-up in Fire Door certification.
  • The implications of the Fire Safety Bill were reviewed by our external compliance consultant who advised that our current policies and approach would put us as compliant with the Bill.
  • We had commenced the process of formalising our policy in relation to electrical safety inspections to bring it more in line with gas safety inspections. It was anticipated that a report will be taken through Cabinet later in the year to approve the policy.


In terms of the recently published Building Safety Bill, the Assistant Director reported that:

  • The Building Safety Bill was published on 5th July 2021 and it was announced that there would be a Building Safety Regulator.
  • We had been advised that it could well be later this year before this came into effect and at the moment we were still not clear on how it would be introduced in terms of phasing.
  • The Bill did not look significantly different to earlier versions that were circulated and had previously been reported to this Committee.
  • There were budgets in place for the role of Building Safety Manager.  However, this role had not yet been appointed as we still needed to understand exactly what the Act would require of the role.
  • Some works had commenced in preparation:-

1.     Consultant appointed

    1. Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments underway across high-rise
    2. Consultant to assist with the production of Building Safety Manuals
    3. Consultant to assist with digital record keeping and Building Information Management systems
    4. Currently seeking tenders for updated structural survey of blocks
    5. Updated electrical inspection programme would feed into project
    6. Inspections to be extended to a sample of low-rise blocks
  • We would need to further develop more pro-active communications with residents and Leaseholders within our blocks.


The Committee sought and received clarifications in the following areas:

·       Fire door replacement programme, where it was confirmed that the delay to this programme was as a result of the re-certification of fire doors in the market.

·       The requirement or not for 3D mapping of buildings, where it was confirmed that this would be part of the expected digital records requirement if the surveyors considered 3D mapping to be most appropriate.

·       Regularity of lift inspections in the high rise buildings, where it was reported that a risk based approach was taken, but all lifts were maintained regularly (every 3 months as a minimum) and some more regularly.

·       The installation of fire sprinklers within residences and the extent of the take up.  It was reported that the take up had been good with only 17 leasehold properties across all 7 blocks included in the programme refusing installation. Furthermore, whilst the Council had decided not to charge leaseholders for the work, there was no mechanism to force leaseholders to have the work done as there was no legal requirement to install sprinklers and nothing in the lease that would force them to comply.

·       Assessments of council buildings which were lower risk (below 18m), where it was reported that inspections and surveys were prioritised on buildings with communal entrances.

·       Management of inspections for heritage sites, such as the Town Hall where is was reported that regular risk assessments and electrical inspections were undertaken and that a reasonable and proportionate approach was taken.

·       Electrical safety checks and gaining access to undertake such tests where the access process was less clear than for gas safety inspections,  It was noted that this was an area of focus to ensure all procedures and communication with tenants were clear.


The Committee thanked the Assistant Director for his attendance and presentation and noted that a further update in 12 months time would be added to the work plan.  The Assistant Director left the meeting.