Fire service responds after revelation two Northampton tower blocks have cladding issues similar to Grenfell

'Essential' safety work on town centre apartments not set to start until April

By Logan MacLeod
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 7:18 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd December 2021, 10:31 am

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said it is working 'proactively' with owners and managers of two Northampton tower blocks said to have safety issues similar to Grenfell Tower.

PA Housing submitted plans to West Northamptonshire Council to complete 'essential' fire safety work on the Newlife Apartment buildings which stated investigations had found they "do not meet the required standard in terms of fire safety.".

If approved, work to remove the existing render cladding and combustible materials would start in on the 12-storey buildings in Crispin Street during April 2022.

Newlife Apartments in Crispin Street

A Fire and Rescue Service spokesman confirmed: “NFRS has been proactively working with the owners and managers of all the blocks of flats within Northamptonshire which exceed 18 metres.

“Since 2017, our fire protection team has worked with owners to improve fire safety within premises in the county following the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire, from which a huge deal has been learnt within this regard and from which a number of legislative changes will occur in the near future.

“It is vitally important that buildings abide by the regulations of the time in which they were built.

"But the fire service would recommend that fire risk assessments of relevant buildings are regularly reviewed in order to ensure the safety of the building itself, but most importantly the safety of those who reside within them.

"We welcome any efforts of owners and managers which looks at increasing those levels of safety.”

In 2016, 72 people died in a major fire at Grenfell Tower, a residential block of flats in west London.

The fire was started by a malfunctioning fridge-freezer on the fourth floor and spread rapidly up the building's exterior, bringing fire and smoke to all the floors.

In his report to the public inquiry, Professor Luke Bisby said evidence 'strongly supports' the theory that material in the cladding was the primary cause of the fire's spread.

A PA Housing spokesman said: "Two aspects of the property require attention: replacing the light grey rendered sections and installing cavity barriers behind some of the glazed panels. Work to fix both these issues will be carried out at the same time.

“In the meantime, in order to increase resident safety we have carried out additional fire safety works. We have installed a new fire alarm system in the shared area and in residents’ properties. We have also carried out fire stopping works throughout the buildings to further protect the escape routes.

"In addition, we are carrying out weekly inspections of both buildings and removing any items left in shared areas as soon as we see them.

“We have written to all residents regularly to keep them updated since these issues were identified last year. We have also liaised closely with Northampton Fire and Rescue Service about our remediation plans and the additional works we’ve undertaken.”