Grenfell survivors housed in flats with high fire risk, report finds

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are living in a block of flats with a high risk of fire, according to a risk assessment report commissioned by a resident.

In July 2018, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea acquired 31 flats on Hortensia Road, London for survivors of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. The new-build property was bought from a private contractor as part of the 300 homes for Grenfell survivors.

A fire risk assessment completed last month concluded that current provisions were not satisfactory and that the building was at high risk of fire.

The report noted that combustible materials were currently not separated from ignition sources, the smoke extraction system was not working, and that there was no adequate procedures for disabled residents to be evacuated.

The fire assessment also found no evidence that the cladding had been inspected and noted there wasn’t compartmentation of a reasonable standard or reasonable limitation of linings that might promote fire spread.

The report, commissioned by a resident, was obtained by Inside Housing.

Sarah Jones MP, the shadow housing minister, said: “This is yet another example of how neither the Conservative government nor Kensington and Chelsea council have learned the lessons from the Grenfell tragedy. No one should be living in unsafe buildings, but of all people, putting Grenfell survivors at risk of another fire is a complete disgrace.”

She added: “Two years after Grenfell, 60,000 people are still living in tower blocks with deadly ACM cladding, 95% of council blocks still don’t have sprinklers, and countless more could be at risk because the government has failed to do safety checks on most tower blocks.”

Morya Samuel, a spokesperson for the campaign group Justice4Grenfell said: “It’s obvious that the council are not taking residents health and safety seriously. It’s obvious to us that the council is continuing its institutional indifference and has gone back to a business as usual approach.

“People have been saying the local authority just does not have any respect for the residents of North Kensington. If you can do this to people who have survived fire, it shows the lack of humanity and duty of care.”

The assessment was critical of the “poor” housekeeping in the building’s carpark and the refuse area and notes there are no fire action notices at call points.

A council spokesperson said: “Our first priority is the safety of our residents and we have been working closely with them from the beginning, keeping them regularly informed of progress.”

The spokesperson criticised the fire risk assessment, stating it “contains a number of errors and parts appear to be cut and pasted from other assessments. There are also references to features which do not exist at Hortensia Road”.

The council also said that the building had a sprinkler system, 30-minute fire resistant doors, a firefighter lift for use in the event of an emergency, and carried out weekly block inspections to ensure communal areas were kept clear.

“We undertook an enhanced, Type 3 FRA, on 18 July, the results of which we will be sharing with residents soon. This will include timescales to deal with the issues raised. Many of the issues have already been addressed and we have recently replaced insulation around windows as recommended by the latest government advice,” the spokesperson added.

Block of flats chosen to house Grenfell survivors found to have ‘high’ fire risk BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire