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Although issues of fire safety aren’t quite dominating the national headlines anymore, we are continuing to talk to residents and work through the issues presented by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. Here’s an update of what we’ve concentrated on so far in July: I hope you find it useful. If you have any specific questions about your home, our dedicated team remains in place to respond – click here for their contact details.

Many thanks, Tina

Reassurance visits and drop in events

All 45 of the blocks that are over 18m/6 storeys in height have now been visited. We talked to 1088 (out of 3979) tenants and leaseholders, with lots of useful feedback gathered.

The visits were quickly followed up by a series of drop in events for the residents. The aim of these was to start collating information for tenancy audit visits and to discuss the possible options for future fire safety equipment, including sprinklers, fire alarms and emergency lighting. 18 events took place, with over 175 customers attending.

We’ve had some interesting conversations along the way, and it’s been good to hear that the majority of residents feel safe in their homes and have been pleased to see extra resources put into working with them on this important issue.

Some events have been attended by members of a group petitioning for sprinklers, but it hasn’t been a priority for the vast majority of the residents that have talked to us. The consensus is that fire safety within a block needs to be seen ‘in the round’ and shouldn’t be reduced to a debate around a single preventative measure.

As soon as the results have been collated we’ll share them with customers.

Tenancy audit

We are planning to carry out a full tenancy audit within the 45 blocks, to obtain up to date information on household composition and provide fire safety reassurance and advice. It is hoped that the visits will be done in partnership with TWFRS, with priority given to residents who are most vulnerable to the risk of fire or most likely to have difficulty evacuating.

At the same time, we will be organising our records so that, in the unlikely event of a fire, details of people who would require assistance can be passed quickly to the fire service. We are working closely with TWFRS colleagues to programme in the visits.

Work with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

TWFRS have conducted fire audits on all 45 blocks. A meeting has been arranged for the start of August to discuss the findings. The fire service has already confirmed that there are no immediate areas of concern.

Cladding/External Wall insulation testing

Samples have been taken from all of the different types of cladding and external wall insulation on the 45 blocks. These will be sent for testing to ‘Exover Warrington fire’ by the end of this week. The report should be received within 3 weeks. This testing is being conducted as a reassurance measure, and no concerns have been identified with the materials used on YHN managed blocks.

Fire door programme

The existing fire door programme has been accelerated, and work has now commenced at Riverside Dene. All doors that do not meet the current standard will be replaced over the next 12 weeks. Residents have been informed in writing, and our contractor Straightline will arrange access to each individual property.

We started work this week to inspect all flat entrance and communal area doors in the 45 blocks across the city. Priority will be given to blocks with single staircases and those with gas.

Fire stopping programme

‘Fire stopping’ describes the work we do to make sure that gaps around pipes and cables are sealed correctly, so that fire and smoke cannot spread (it’s sometimes called ‘Compartmentation’). We have started re-inspecting blocks – again, to provide reassurance – and will be carrying out any necessary works.