Council urges people to review their fire safety

Chichester District Council is encouraging its residents to review their fire safety procedures, following the Grenfell Tower blaze in London.

"What happened at the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington was just horrific and our thoughts are with all of those who lost their lives, those who were affected by this dreadful incident, and of course the heroic emergency services working at the site," says Cllr Jane Kilby, Cabinet Member for Housing at Chichester District Council.

"We would urge everyone to review their home safety procedures following this incident, regardless of the type of property you live in. Please make sure that you check that your fire alarms are working and you know where your escape routes are.

"We no longer manage our own council housing stock and there are no high rise buildings within the district. However, we want to reassure our residents that other accommodation that we do own, including our temporary accommodation at Westward House, meets the required safety standards, as outlined in the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

"Westward House has always had good fire protection in place, but we took the opportunity to further improve this when the building was last refurbished in 2012-13. With the help and guidance of the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, we installed a new fire detection and warning system which is connected to our Chichester Careline 24 hour control centre. We also replaced all windows to meet the very latest standards. It's also worth reassuring people that each unit of accommodation has adequate fire separation from adjacent units.

"As a council, we have also invested considerable resources to improve living conditions in 'houses of multiple occupation' through our landlord accreditation scheme. The scheme was originally targeted at shared student accommodation, but this has extended over time. We now have nearly 400 accredited houses in the district, all of which have to meet fire safety standards as part of the scheme.

"We also run a 'Homefinder' service, which helps people to secure accommodation in the private rented sector. All accommodation within this scheme is inspected by our Environmental Health team and this assessment includes making sure that fire safety has been reviewed within each property.

"We are also required to licence houses of multiple occupation that have three or more storeys, housing five or more people. The responsibility for fire safety rests with the landlord of a property, but we want to reassure people that we only issue a licence if we are sure that the appropriate fire safety standards are met.

"The safety of our residents and businesses is paramount. We work very closely with the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and together we actively promote fire safety and encourage businesses, landlords and residents to make sure that they are meeting the correct safety standards.

"West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has issued guidance for residents and businesses since this dreadful incident and we really would urge people to visit their website to make sure that they are aware of the latest fire safety advice ."

Date of release: 19 June 2017

Reference: 3721