Wednesday, 04 March 2015

Blaze at tower block run by ALMO hit with fire demand

A number of residents have been placed in temporary accommodation after fire broke out in a tower block run by an ALMO which previously had an enforcement notice issued against it.

Around 50 residents had to be evacuated after the blaze took hold of a flat in a 17-storey tower block on Abinger Grove, Deptford, on Sunday 6 November.

The block, mermaid tower, is in the same road as Marine Tower where two women died from a fire in February this year.

After the first fire, Lewisham Homes – Lewisham Council’s ALMO - was issued with an enforcement notice by the London Fire Brigade calling on it to improve safety after the service discovered Marine Tower did not comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

The cause of the latest fire is still under investigation, but no fatalities were reported and the blaze is thought to have been confined to a single flat.

Lisa Hicks, station manager,  said: ‘Our crews worked extremely hard to bring the fire under control and to quickly and professionally search a number of floors to ensure that everyone was safe.

‘Fire investigators will be working through the night to try and establish what caused the fire.’

A spokesperson for Lewisham Homes said: ‘A fire started on the 11th floor of Mermaid Tower in Deptford on Sunday afternoon. The London Fire Brigade were called to the scene and all residents were evacuated safely to a nearby community centre.

‘Residents were able to return to their homes late Sunday night and we made alternative accommodation arrangements for four households overnight.

‘We will continue to assess damage to the properties effected by the fire today and ensure that residents can return to their homes as soon as possible.

‘Fire safety is a top priority for us, we fully compiled with the enforcement notice for Marine Tower which was served in February this year and can assure our residents that we carry out regular fire safety checks of all our properties. Working with the Fire Brigade we continue to inform residents on how they can keep safe in their homes.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • The problem as I have only just discovered this week as a result of a Freedom Of Information request from the London Fire Brigade is that Notices Of Deficiencies (NODS) are issued for low risks and served on a landlord / the responsible person as per the 2005 Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order are a non statutory tool used by the Enforcement Authority. They simply serve as a concern of the EA / LFB that the landlord has no legal obligation to carry out any works specified or completion dates specified in the NOD's.

    A serious fire occurred in one of my former landlords high-rise blocks before the end of September which left several residents hospitalised for smoke inhalation, several needing rehousing. My former landlords were issued with NOD's on 6 of their high-rise blocks (over 500 dwellings) including the one that the fire occurred in, with a stipulation that the works had to be carried out by the end of September. Only since the fire are works now commencing and will not be completed until the Spring of 2011.

    The LFB are content with this and in their response to my FOI request have stated that works required in a NOD are not enforceable and any dates specified for completion serve only as an aid for the landlord and are again unenforceable.

    Only if they continue to ignore the NODS or something dreadful occurs which might lead to the loss of life would enforcement notices be issued with the risk of prosecution for non compliance.

    The Government should be looking seriously at this issue of Enforcement Authorities issuing NOD's when the NOD's themselves are unenforceable and cant in themselves result in a prosecution. Only ignoring the NODS or the issuing of an Enforcement Notice which is then ignored by a landlord/ responsible person can lead to a prosecution.

    Stephen West


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  • That should read works to be completed by the Spring of 2012, the NOD's were issued in March 2011.

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  • Mr Reasonable

    Stephen - you are mostly correct there, but surely any repsonsible landlord would act immediately on the issue of a NOD and work with the local Fire & Resuce Service to resolve any of the issues they have - or at least agree a timetable to rectify the defects?

    If the NOD is ignored the F&RS will issue an enforcement notice and then a prohibition notice is the EN is ignored. Once a PN has been issued, then the block needs to be evacuated and the residents rehoused elsewhere.

    The F&RS are quite rightly upping their game across the country, with a whole tranche of landlords and responsible people being fined and even jailed for ignoring EN that have been issed.

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  • Hi Mr Reasonable

    The issue on the estate I was referring to is one where the whole estate is to be redeveloped with all the blocks coming down in 3-5 years time, and the landlords not wanting to spend hundreds of thousands per block upgrading and renewing residents doors and communal doors. Now they are simply retrofitting adaptions to the doors to comply with the regulations and NODs whilst saving fast sums not having to totally renew doors. I would call it bolting the doors after the horses have bolted !

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