Information for residents following the fire at Grenfell Tower

A major fire broke out on Tuesday 13 June at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in West London. As of Monday 19 June, 79 people are presumed dead or missing. Our thoughts are with those affected.

Kensington and Chelsea Council has confirmed that a thorough investigation into the cause of the fire will get underway. That will include a review into how the fire was caused and how it was able to spread so rapidly.

Although Grenfell Tower is not a Genesis property, in light of this tragic incident it is only natural that some questions will be asked about whether the fire safety plans in place in some of Genesis’s own multi-storey tower blocks are as thorough as they should be.

We want to reassure our residents that their safety is taken extremely seriously across Genesis: it is the top priority for our Board and Executive. Further updates will be shared via the Genesis website, on Facebook/Twitter and in Spotlight magazine. In the meantime, any residents or customers wishing to discuss this matter in detail or who have specific concerns or queries should call our Customer Contact Centre who will be happy to help, on 033 3000 3000 or email mygenesis@genesisha.org.uk.

General fire safety advice is included below and is also available at: www.london-fire.gov.uk/FireSafety.asp

1. What is Genesis doing to help keep residents safe from risks of fire?

  • In 2015 we appointed Savills, a nationally recognised expert company, to complete a comprehensive fire risk assessment programme across our properties
  • A continuous programme of reviews of fire risk assessments is in place and remedial works is identified and carried out based on the timescales recommended by Savills
  • All of our blocks are risk rated, regular re-inspections (FRAs) are undertaken and high rise blocks are re-inspected annually
  • Our Board has committed £10m to this programme over the next four years
  • We have recently undertaken a major piece of work to ensure all communal areas are kept clear in our residential buildings. That exercise was crucially important - simple measures such as this reduce fire risk. We thank you for your continued co-operation on this matter.

2. What specific steps has Genesis taken following the Grenfell Tower fire?

  • We have instigated an urgent review of our high rise stock and are prioritising reviews of cladding and insulation materials starting with the highest blocks first
  • We are reviewing cladding and insulation materials used on our current development sites
  • We are upgrading our cladding specifications to ensure high standards above minimum Building Regulations
  • We currently have no plans to fit external wall insulation to existing blocks as in the case of Grenfell Tower.

Fire Safety Advice for residents

Here are some precautions you can take to help keep your home and family safe from fire:

  • Test your smoke alarm weekly by pressing the button. Keep your smoke alarm free of dust and keep spare batteries handy. You can find more information on this at: www.fireservice.co.uk/safety/smoke-alarms
  • It is safer not to smoke but if you do, try to smoke outside. Never smoke in bed (or anywhere else where you might fall asleep), make sure cigarettes are properly stubbed out and never throw hot ash in bins
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children
  • Take care with candles: use proper holders and keep them away from curtains, furniture and clothes
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets
  • Never leave pans unattended when cooking
  • Avoid the use of pans full of oil for cooking. If the pan does catch fire, never throw water on it. Cover the pan with a damp tea towel and turn off the heat. If the pan is still alight, leave the room, shut the door, warn others and call 999.
  • Clean the grill pan regularly
  • If you have door closers fitted, don’t wedge the door open or remove the closer
  • When you go to bed, make sure all candles are out and cookers and heaters are turned off. Close doors when you go to bed to stop fires spreading
  • Switch off any non-essential electrical items like TVs at the mains and don’t charge mobiles and laptops overnight
  • Know your escape route before a fire happens
  • Don’t store anything in common areas such as corridors or electrical cupboards.

Fire Safety FAQs

Are fire drills required in residential properties?

  • Fire Drills aren’t required at home. However, everyone in the building should be aware of what to do if there is a fire. Fire action notices in the communal areas of the building provide guidance.
  • Every household should have some sort of escape plan in place just in case the worst was to happen. Hopefully you will never have to use it, but it is important to prepare for it so there is no delay when it is put into action.

What is a Stay Put policy and is it safe?

  • A Stay Put policy means that you should stay in your property if there is a fire elsewhere in the building. If there is a fire in your dwelling you must evacuate immediately, close the door behind you, and call the fire brigade.
  • The policy keeps access routes and stairways clear for firefighters.
  • Stay Put means that you do not have to evacuate the building in the event of a fire. However, if you feel unsafe, wish to evacuate or are told to leave by the fire service you should do so.
  • Fire risk assessments carried out by Savills have looked at Stay Put policies and confirmed that, where they are recommended, they are still the safest policy.

Can I ignore a Stay Put policy and evacuate if I think I’m in danger?

  • Yes. If in doubt, get out.

Where can I get expert information about preventing fires at home?

Are communal fire alarms required in Stay Put blocks?

  • Modern building regulations require buildings to be constructed to contain fire and smoke to the dwelling. Buildings created using these regulations do not need communal fire alarms. Unless a requirement is identified in a fire risk assessment.

Why don’t we have sprinkler systems in our block?

  • Regulations in England mean that buildings constructed since 2007 and taller than 30 metres are required to have sprinklers fitted.
  • Fire Risk Assessments assess a building for how well it can contain a fire. If an assessment identifies issues in relation to a specific building we take action on the recommendations.

Should fire extinguishers be provided in my home?

  • Fire extinguishers are not recommended unless they are properly maintained and there are resident or staff trained to use them. It is safer to evacuate to a place of safety and call the fire brigade.

How do I know if my furniture, carpets, curtains and bedding are fire safe?

  • There should be a permanent label on furniture, soft furnishings, bedding and carpets stating the item meets fire resistance standards. Please be aware that fire resistance of bedding may be reduced after washing.

Some flats are being sublet on AirBnB and similar sites. How do you ensure all occupants are aware of what action to take in the case of fire?

  • There should be fire action notices in the common areas of the building that advise what to do if there is a fire.

Is my mobility scooter a fire risk?

  • Yes. There are risks from the battery and charging system.

Can I store my mobility scooter in a communal corridor?

  • No. Mobility scooters must not be stored in corridors or escape routes. This is a fire risk and can obstruct escape routes.

Can I store things temporarily in corridors and communal cupboards?

  • No. Personal items must not be stored in communal areas as they are a fire risk and obstruct escape routes.

Is it ok to have a door mat, shoe tree, decorations etc outside my door?

  • No. Personal items must not be stored in communal areas as they are a fire risk and obstruct escape routes.

What do I do if I see something wrong with fire safety arrangements, signage, escape routes or equipment?

What should I do if I think there is a fire risk from the electrics in my home?

When was my gas system last checked?

  • Gas system checks are required every year. Contact Genesis on 033 3000 3000 or email mygenesis@genesisha.org.uk if you want to check this.
  • We only arrange annual inspections for tenants. Leaseholders should arrange their own annual inspection.

How often should my electrical circuits be tested?

May I have a copy of the fire risk assessment for my home?

  • We do not provide fire risk assessments to residents but if you have a fire related query please contact Genesis on 033 3000 3000 or email mygenesis@genesisha.org.uk and we will respond as soon as possible.
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