District’s high-rise buildings deemed safe in the wake of Grenfell tragedy

Tower blocks around Wakefield
Tower blocks around Wakefield

The district’s hospitals and high rise flats have reportedly been deemed ‘safe’ by the fire service in the wake of the tragic Grenfell Tower blaze.

The Express asked Wakefield District Housing (WDH) and The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust whether their buildings had been checked following the fire on June 14.

Tower blocks around Wakefield

Tower blocks around Wakefield

The trust said there were no fire safety issues with any of its hospital buildings, including at Pinderfields and Pontefract.

And WDH said its high-rise blocks met fire safety standards.

Iain Brodie, general manager for facilities at the hospital trust, said: “We have had confirmation from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service that they will not be carrying out inspections of our buildings as they present no fire safety issues.

“We will continue to do our regular fire and maintenance checks to make sure our patients, staff and visitors remain safe when they are in all of our premises.

“The safety of our patients, staff and visitors is our number one priority.”

WDH, which oversees 12 high rise blocks, said its properties “are not clad and do not fall within the remit to test”.

A statement from the organisation, which manages all council houses in the district, said: “However, we have reviewed, inspected and received guarantees from manufacturers, Building Research Establishment (BRE) testing and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service that our premises meet required standards for fire safety.

“We have always had very stringent fire inspection procedures to ensure the safety of our tenants is paramount and this will continue to be the case.”

In a letter circulated to tenants it said it had made sure each apartment is compartmentalised from other parts of the building in case of an emergency. And its fire safety guidance advises it will “normally be safe” for people to stay in their flats if a fire breaks out elsewhere in the block.

At least 80 people are believed to have died in the Grenfell Tower blaze in West London earlier this month.

Cladding on high-rise buildings across the country has been tested in the aftermath.

Prime Minister Theresa May has called a public inquiry into the blaze to establish the facts of what happened and “learn lessons” from the tragedy.

West Yorkshire Fire Service has urged private landlords to check any high-rise buildings they are responsible for.

It said social housing landlords and housing providers had been requested by government to identify whether buildings of more than six-storeys high have cladding made from Aluminium Composite Material.

Those which do should be sent to the Building Research Establishment for testing, following Department for Communities and Local Government guidance.

Senior fire protection manager Chris Kemp said: “We would ask that any person responsible for such premises, be it privately owned, existing or new, follows this advice.”