To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972. To agree any relevant briefing notes submitted to the Committee.
The Chair had agreed to one urgent of item business as she had requested an update on the incident that had occurred at Lionel Oxley House on 26 December 2021.
Alastair Wood gave an update on the briefing note provided which can be found online here.
Councillor Pearce questioned how often were electrical safety tests undertaken. Alastair Wood answered that this would be followed up with UKPN on the regularity of electrical tests prior to the incident and the measures to be in place following the incident.
Members requested that an update be provided to the Committee at the next meeting to include a report from UKPN. Alastair Wood and Ewelina Sorbjan advised that they would seek to provide update from UKPN but would need to wait for their report.
The Chair noted that this was the second fire incident at Lionel Oxley House. Following on from the incident, she asked if the service had identified the lessons to be learnt and if there was a written record of the residents that Officers had spoken to. She mentioned that some residents had informed her that they had not been approached. Officers explained that the service had knocked on all doors to speak with residents and had identified 14 households that were affected by the incident. Not all residents of the affected flats were at home at the time of the incident so was followed up with a phone call. The service had already begun to look at the lessons to be learnt from the incident such as the availability of purchase cards for Officers to use. Officers confirmed that tenancy officers and fire officers had worked together to check on each household. An hour later, the service and Mears contractors knocked on doors again. Officers confirmed that there was a written record of which residents were spoken with.
The Chair questioned whether there was scope in the budget to increase the one off payment of £120 to cover additional costs for residents. She also asked when the cladding would be installed in the building and if fire detectors were checked to ensure that they were working and had batteries in. Alastair Wood answered that the service would work with the Contractors on continuing to review support for the residents. He said that it was anticipated work activity on the project would increase in February. . In regards to the fire detection system in the flats, he said that these would be extended within the flats as part of a current project so there would be full coverage within the flat to increase protection. He confirmed this project was already underway and was not in response to any specific incident. The current fire detectors within flats were hardwired as part of the electrical system and were checked in the affected flats by Mears after the incident.
Noting that the fire system would be upgraded, Councillor Ononaji asked if this would include a fire detector in the communal area as this was where the incident had occurred. Alastair Wood explained that due to safety reasons, a fire alarm could not be installed in a communal area. This could cause a danger to residents as it was a single staircase block. Over the years, the fire system had been upgraded in line with fire safety regulations and residents needed to react to fire alarms within their individual dwellings. There were fire safety measures in place which the fire brigade would manage to ensure the safety of residents.
Councillor Van Day raised concerns over there being no fire detectors in the communal areas. He commented on the fire incident in West London a few years ago and pointed out that the advice had been for residents to stay put which had resulted in the tragedy that had occurred. Ewelina Sorbjan explained that the doors in the hallways of Lionel Oxley House were held open with magnets at all times as part of safety measures. In the event of a fire, the doors would shut to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading.
Members praised the service for their swift response to the incident and the efforts that were put in to ensure residents safety. Members asked that an initial report be brought back to the next meeting to outline what lessons could be learnt and that residents’ feedback should be included in the report.