As the terrible news has emerged overnight from West London, our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the fire at Grenfell House. It is particularly raw for us in Southwark, bringing back dreadful memories of the Lakanal fire in 2009 in which 6 people tragically lost their lives.
I understand that many residents living in high-rise blocks in Southwark will be concerned, and I wanted to write to you straight away to reassure you that Southwark has carried out a huge programme of works in recent years to improve the safety of our tower blocks.
- Following the fire the council began an ongoing programme to ensure all its properties received a regular full fire risk assessment, beginning with those deemed to be high risk.
- Since 2009 the council has spent £62 million on its fire risk assessment programme and associated fire safety works for all its council housing in the borough.
- We continue to invest as necessary as part of the ongoing major works programme.
- The council works closely with London Fire Brigade (LFB) and meets regularly with them, both on an operational and fire safety level, informing them of progress on the risk profile of the borough and other issues.
- LFB assists the council in advising residents on fire safety and fitting smoke alarms inside their homes.
- In February 2015, all fire risk works to all high rise and lower/more complex housing were complete.
- Since then the council has completed a programme to fit state of the art smoke detection systems to the dwellings in these blocks, and has a rolling programme underway to introduce a similar system in all remaining blocks.
As a council, we are doing all that we can to keep our residents safe from the devastating consequences of a major fire, but you can help too by following this advice:
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home
- Keep balconies free from clutter
- Please don’t leave rubbish or bikes in communal areas or obstruct escape routes
- Make sure you know where your nearest fire exit is
- If you are a smoker please do not smoke in common areas of the block
- Always fully extinguish cigarettes smoked in your home and dispose of them carefully and safely
We have been in contact with Kensington and Chelsea council to offer any help and assistance we can at this difficult time.
Thank you and best wishes,
Councillor Stephanie Cryan
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing