Council working to implement Hackitt fire safety review amid concerns about overdue priority works

Camden Town Hall. Photograph: Google Maps

A raft of recommendations for improved fire safety control measures introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire has begun to be put in place by Camden Council.

Published in May, Dame Judith Hackitt’s report recommends a new “regulatory regime” for tower blocks with 10 or more storeys to improve fire safety standards.

The review’s first stage deemed that current UK building regulations are “not fit for purpose” and open to abuse by those trying to save money.

The government said it backed Hackitt’s review and committed to changing the law “to achieve meaningful and lasting reform of the building regulatory system”, but so far nothing has been confirmed.

At Camden Council’s Fire Safety Advisory Committee on Tuesday, the panel discussed the Hackitt review and the steps that were already being taken to improve fire safety in the borough.

Keith Scott, Director of Resident Safety, said: “We’re not waiting for the changes in the law, following the Hackitt review, we’re already raising the game on residents’ fire safety.

“We have a fire risk register now, we know the high priorities and the low priorities. We’re in a much better place of understanding the data.

“We have sent out the adverts for four additional fire safety advisors to join the council.”

The panel highlighted the work that is being done to develop a resident fire safety engagement strategy. The scheme will ensure that “staff and residents have the information and training to develop the skills they want and need to help maintain a safe environment”.

But Cllr Douglas Beattie, Chair of the Housing Scrutiny Committee, questioned whether any deadlines had been set as to when these fire safety improvements would be completed.

“In the context of Grenfell and Chalcots, residents just want clarity to know exactly when this process of improving fire safety will be completed,” he said.

“There needs to be an established deadline for this process so residents can be reassured they are not living in a flammable building.”

Last month, the Camden Citizen revealed that nearly a quarter of top priority fire safety issues in Camden’s high-rise council blocks had not been resolved as of the anniversary of the Grenfell fire.

In response to Councillor Beattie, Scott highlighted that most of the top priority fire safety issues in Camden’s buildings involve installing new fire doors, which will be in place by April 2019.

“It’s a pump primer process,” he said. “As we apply the extra resources and competency to fire safety in the borough, we will see the number of buildings at high risk come down at a faster rate.”

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