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Confirmed: Flammable Grenfell cladding not used on Jersey towers

Confirmed: Flammable Grenfell cladding not used on Jersey towers

Thursday 22 June 2017

Confirmed: Flammable Grenfell cladding not used on Jersey towers

Thursday 22 June 2017

Flammable cladding which helped spread fire at breakneck speed through the ill-fated Grenfell Tower has not been used on any high-rise social housing in Jersey, it has been confirmed.

Concerns have circulated among islanders and politicians over the safety of Jersey’s high-rise blocks in the week following the 24-storey blaze in north Kensington, which has left around 79 dead; but Housing Minister Anne Pryke, and government housing provider Andium Homes, announced on Tuesday that they were “confident” that current accommodation meets, "...the highest safety standards."

In response to a series of questions from Express, which were subsequently published on its website, Andium affirmed that construction of its buildings is subject to “strict quality control” and that materials used are regulated by Jersey Building Bye-Laws, based on UK rules.

Moreover, they confirmed that there would never be a trade-off between build costs and safety quality after Grenfell contractors were slammed for having opted for cheaper, more flammable aluminium composite cladding material instead of the fire retardant option to save just £2 per square metre.

high-rise flats andium towers

Pictured: High-rise social housing across St Helier and St Clements. (Google Maps)

“Under Andium Homes procurement procedures the Professional Design team dictate the specification for materials to be used. This specification is followed rigorously. We are therefore confident that the best materials are used and their selection is not based on price,” a spokesperson said.

The reassurance adds to that provided by Andium and members of the Fire Service, who last week knocked on more than 500 doors to provide support and fire safety guidance to shaken social high-rise renters.

At present, they’re entitled to mains and battery powered smoke detectors as minimum, which Andium said are, “…checked at change of tenancy, and replaced every ten years as part of a rolling maintenance programme”, while many properties also feature dry risers, emergency lighting and fire extinguishers and blankets.

But questions abounded in the States over whether the Minister would consider 'retrofitting' a sprinkler system to stem the blaze should the worst arise – a measure she did not commit to, claiming that there were arguments “both for and against.”

Video: The North Kensington building continued to smoke following an all-night blaze as dawn broke over London last week. (BBC Breakfast)

While regular fire inspections – the latest of which was in the final quarter of 2016 – will continue to take place, the Minister announced a new ‘task force’ including representatives from Andium, Building Control, the Strategic Housing Unit and Fire Service, who will monitor the learning from the Grenfell tragedy and make amendments to States housing where necessary. Debuty Louise Doublet and Constable Simon Crowcroft, however, called for the private rental sector to be considered too.

In the wake of the fatal blaze, the UK government also came under attack for having failed to update access points for the tower - constructed in the 70s like many of Jersey’s high-rise blocks - with plans showing a single set of stairs for 120 flats across 24 floors.

A recently-published list of Jersey’s 11 towers shows that The Cedars – Andium’s tallest tower at 16 storeys – also has one staircase, but three access points and two lifts. 15-floor La Collette and Le Marais, meanwhile, have one staircase, two access points and two lifts. Four out of the 11 buildings have special firemen’s lifts, while only one – Hue Court – has two staircases.


Commenting on whether high-rise buildings are required to have multiple escape routes, Andium stated: “Building Byelaws… suggest that a single escape route from the flat entrance door is acceptable if the flat is situated in a storey served by a single common stair and every flat is separated from the common stair by a protected lobby or common corridor. Based on this there is no requirement to ensure multiple escape routes during refurbishment.

“Where Andium Homes are refurbishing high-rise properties, we now fully decant the building prior to major works commencing in order to mitigate any increased risks.”

Fire safety guidance for islanders living in high-rise blocks can be found here.

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