Worcester’s MP, Robin Walker, has expressed his condolences to all those affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower in West London.
In the early hours of this morning (14th June) over 200 fire fighters from London Fire Brigade attended a rapidly developing incident at the 24-storey tower block in North Kensington. The fire was quickly declared a major incident and crews wearing breathing apparatus have been working in extremely difficult conditions to rescue people and bring this major fire under control.
This morning Robin spoke with Fire Safety Officers at Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service to seek reassurances on the assessments that have been made of the safety of tower blocks in Worcester, specifically the Severn House, Cripplegate House and Henwick House blocks in St Johns.
Speaking to Mark Preece, Head of Community Risk and Training at Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, Robin received assurances that extensive fire safety checks and drills have been regularly carried out at the St Johns towers to mitigate the risk of any similar incident occurring. It was also confirmed that there are no gas supplies to any of the three blocks, unlike the Grenfell Tower.
Fortis Living, who are responsible for the management of the three St Johns towers, also provided reassurance that all fire risk assessments for the blocks are undertaken annually and were last completed in April 2017. They further confirmed that the blocks feature a fully integrated fire alarm system as well as smoke vents. The system is linked direct to a 24 hour emergency line which will automatically call the appropriate services in the event of an incident.
“The Grenfell Tower fire this morning is clearly a tragedy on an enormous scale. I drive past the tower every week on my commute between Worcester and Westminster and my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. I would also take this opportunity to praise the incredible bravery and swift response of the emergency services, in particular the fire crews who rushed into the danger to save lives.
“Having spoken to the fire safety officer this morning, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service assured me of a number of plans which are in place to reduce the risk of a similar tragedy occurring in Worcester. Each Worcester fire crew carries out annual drills at the St Johns towers, and emergency plans relating to the towers are reviewed at least twice a year.
“New fire alarms were fitted in the blocks during the recent refurbishment, and the design of the towers is such that any fire would be contained to the individual flat in which it started. I saw the improved fire safety features for myself in the past weeks, having covered every floor of the towers over the election period. The cladding on the exterior of the blocks is also of a different material, being a render system as opposed to the aluminium panelling on the Grenfell Tower, which some have suggested may have contributed to the spread of the blaze.
“Nevertheless, an urgent meeting has been called today to bring together the fire authorities, Fortis Living, Worcester City Council and the refurbishment architects DJD, to share information and form a full and coordinated response. Fire crews have also been deployed to all high-rise accommodation in Hereford and Worcester to provide reassurance to residents. I was particularly keen that reassurance be provided to vulnerable residents of the sheltered accommodation block, and I thank the fire and rescue service for their swift action on this.”
For Hereford & Worcestershire Fire & Rescue service press release please see:
For the Fortis Living press release please see: