A councillor wants a review of safety advice urging tower block residents to ‘stay put’ in the event of a fire following the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Boughton councillor Martyn Delaney, whose ward includes the three Newtown tower blocks, would like Sanctuary Housing to check the protocol is up-to-date.
That’s because questions have been raised over whether that same advice led to avoidable deaths in London where at least 30 people are confirmed dead.
Cllr Delaney said: “I want them to review the exit rules of ‘staying put’. I know fire doors are good for an hour or whatever but that instruction could have led to deaths in London.”
There are concerns cladding added to Grenfell Tower may have led to rapid fire spread. In recent years tower blocks in Newtown and Blacon were also reclad to improve their appearance and insulation properties.
Cllr Delaney is seeking reassurances the materials used in Chester are fireproof. And he wants to be confident the national building regulations governing such matters are ‘fit for purpose’.
Rescues using the fire service aerial platform should be easier in Cheshire than at Grenfell because here the tallest tower blocks are 16 floors high compared with 24-storeys. In Chester the blocks are about 12 floors in height. Most hydraulic platforms can reach up to the ninth or 10th storey.
But Cllr Delaney has concerns around pigeon nets which cover some of the balconies fearing it could impede a person’s escape route in the event of such a rescue proving necessary.
On a positive note, Cllr Delaney is pleased the Rowlands Heights block in Newtown has been fitted with sprinklers but would like this safety measure rolled out to other high rise buildings as soon as possible.
This is a sentiment echoed by fellow Labour councillor Ben Powell, whose Blacon ward covers six blocks managed by Sanctuary, provided residents are consulted and involved in the process given understandable concerns about the potential damage to a flat if a sprinkler is activated in error.
Cllr Powell also seeking clarificaton about the nature of the material used to clad the Blacon blocks. His understanding is the cladding it is ‘concrete-based’, completely different to that used at Grenfell Tower and not flammable.
■ Kent-based Lawtech, who were involved with Blacon Towers but not Newtown, have issued a statement confirming its cladding is safe.
A spokeswoman said: “We can assure you that the system installed on the property bears no resemblance to that installed on Grenfell Towers, and meets all current fire and safety legislation.
“The insulation used on the block was a Rockwool based EWI system utilising non-combustible insulation and is fundamentally different from the rain screen cladding system we understand to have been used at Grenfell Towers.”
Rockwool themselves have in turn issued the following statement: “In the event of a fire, our fire proof insulation slows the spread of the flames. Rockwool stone wool does not produce dangerous toxic smoke and also helps protect the building’s load-bearing structure, protecting lives and investment.
“By protecting the structural frame of the building from destruction by fire, it is possible to give occupants more time to escape, and to limit the damage to the building.”