Residents To Remain in Wandsworth Tower Despite Standards Failure

No evacuation of Sudbury House even though cladding 'not sufficiently fire resistant'

Sudbury House: Google Street View

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The decision has been made not to evacuate Sudbury House in Wandsworth despite tests showing that the material used in the cladding of the building does not meet current standards.

The announcement follows a comprehensive inspection of Sudbury House carried out on Sunday (25 June) by London Fire Brigade (LFB) fire safety officers who determined that there was no reason for residents to move out. The cladding on the building will be removed as quickly as possible and a fire safety marshall will be on duty at the building 24 hours a day.

Fire crews rescued two people from the building (Photo by Alex Joy) 2010

The LFB team, which was accompanied by the brigade’s assistant commissioner Tom George, confirmed they are satisfied there is no undue risk to the residents of the block and no reason for them to move out. Residents of Sudbury House were informed of the fire brigade’s decision by letter this week.

The announcement follows a similar decision made by the LFB at Castlemaine Tower in Battersea, which was subject to a similar detailed safety inspection on Saturday, following the results of the tests carried out on its cladding by Government officials.

Castlemaine and Sudbury have been identified as the only two high-rise blocks in the borough to have been fitted with this type of cladding, but the LFB have concluded that the various other fire prevention and protection measures in the blocks have been properly installed, have been well maintained and remain fit for purpose.

The inspections in both buildings were carried out from ground level to top floor and included fire doors, dry risers, intake cupboards, service ducts, gas pipes and electrical fittings and other parts of the building that could conceivably catch fire.

Cladding from both Castlemaine and Sudbury will now be removed as quickly as possible. Until that process has been completed the council is deploying fire marshals in each block who will remain there 24 hours a day as an additional safety measure.

Every property in both blocks is also being visited to make sure that residents have working smoke alarms. If they do not the council will provide these free of charge.

In 2010 two people were rescued from a fire at Sudbury House, the BBC reported Station manager Barry Newstead saying, "We had two rescues, one from the third floor and one from the fifth. The man on the fifth floor suffered smoke inhalation.' The compartmentalisation of the fire which was supposed to have stopped the fire spreading at Grenfell Tower appears to have worked successfully in this case.

Commenting on the latest situation council leader Ravi Govindia said: “Over the weekend the fire brigade’s specialist fire safety team carried out very detailed inspections at the two cladded blocks in the borough. I’m sure residents in both buildings will be hugely reassured by the positive results of these inspections.

“We have always treated fire safety very seriously in our high rise properties and have invested heavily to ensure they are fitted with the full range of protective measures like internal firebreaks and barriers and fire doors to ensure that if a fire does break out in one property it’s prevented from spreading to others.

“Having had the results back from the Government laboratories to show that the cladding is not sufficiently fire resistant we are now putting in place the arrangements for its removal.

“And we are also beginning the process of arranging for water sprinklers to be installed in 100 of our high rise blocks to offer our residents enhanced levels of safety and reassurance.”

The council is also repeating its earlier advice to residents of high-rise blocks to reduce the risk from fire:

• Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in your home – these will be provided at no cost.
• Check your smoke alarm is working every month.
• Keep balconies free from clutter.
• Don’t leave rubbish or bikes in communal areas or obstruct escape routes.
• Make sure you know where your nearest fire exit is.
• Do not smoke in common areas of the block.
• Always fully extinguish cigarettes smoked in your home and dispose of them carefully and safely.

June 27, 2017