Fire dangers – Council fails to warn residents

Fairburn House, West Kensington estate

West Ken tower blocks – Fire Brigade serves Enforcement Notice on Council

On 1 March we inspected the five West Kensington Estate tower blocks, Fairburn, Churchward, Desborough, Lickey and Sharnbrook Houses. We reported 62 missing or broken door closers and missing floor signs to the London Fire Brigade.

Little did we know that the fire danger in the tower blocks was greater than we had suspected. In December last year, following a formal inspection, the London Fire Brigade served an Enforcement Notice on Hammersmith& Fulham Council.

The Enforcement Notice threw the law book of Fire Safety Orders at the Council, identifying five failures across the full spectrum of fire safety.

“Failure to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.

Failure to apply the principles of prevention to the implementation of the preventative and protective measures identified by the risk assessment.

Failure in the effective management of the preventive and protective measures.

Failure to provide and/or maintain adequate and clearly indicated emergency routes and exits that lead to a place of safety.

Failure to ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment and devices are maintained in an efficient state, in effective working order and in good repair.”

The Notice goes on to specify what needs to be done for the Council to comply with the Orders by August 2013.

The Fire Brigade’s Inspecting Officer has reassured us that he is monitoring the Council’s progress at monthly meetings and that he has prosecution powers to back him up.

However, despite the scale and complexity of the works involved, we are concerned that the Council has been given too long to comply with the Notice. Given the tens of millions of pounds the Council has made from selling off homes in the Borough, we do not accept ‘budget constraints’ to be a reasonable excuse for not getting on with the works.

The Council failed to inform residents it had been served with an Enforcement Notice, did not tell them about the works it is undertaking now and will do next to comply with that Notice, and has not advised them about any special precautions they should take.

Charlie Treloggan, resident of Fairburn House, former Mayor of the Borough and Board Member of West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes, said:

“The Council is running down the estates as part of its scheme to sell off and demolish our homes. It should get on with and complete all the fire safety works as fast as possible. We should be told what’s going on, and we expect the Council to advise us how we could help prevent a tragedy, which in turn could open the Council to prosecution.”

Andy Slaughter MP told us: “I have urged the Council to show some heart in its all-out war against the West Ken & Gibbs Green estates. This is a ‘clear and present danger’. When people’s lives are at stake it’s not good enough to use budgetary excuses to delay completion of the works for another year and a half.”



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