There are approximately 11,000 high-rise residential buildings in the UK. In Devon and Somerset, there are 87 buildings that are in scope for the building risk review project. These 87 buildings are of mixed-use, but mostly residential, and over 18 metres (or six or more floors) high. We will visit all these buildings by the end of 2021.
Government funding for fire alarm systems
The government has announced a £30 million fund to pay for the costs of installing fire alarm systems in buildings with unsafe cladding. The fund will cover the up-front capital costs of installing an appropriate alarm system, on or after 17 December 2020.
To be eligible a building must:
- be in the private sector
- be over 18 metres in height
- have an unsafe cladding system
- have a Waking Watch in place where these costs have been passed on to leaseholders.
The 'responsible person' should apply to the fund and consider the information they are likely to need to make an application. For more detailed information visit the government website.
What we have done already for high-rise buildings
The first step in the national Building Risk Review Programme, covered the inspection of Aluminium Composite Materials (ACM) clad high-rise residential buildings. By the end of November 2021 there will be no high-rise residential buildings over 18 metres in Devon and Somerset with ACM cladding. We have worked with building owners to adapt high-risk buildings to remove ACM, fit sprinklers and install fire warning systems.
What happens at a building risk review visit?
Phase two will ensure all 87 buildings are inspected or reviewed by the end of 2021. We will get in touch with the responsible persons for each building to arrange our visit. The visits will be done in two parts:
1. We will inspect and review the building as a whole
We will do an audit of fire safety arrangements in the building such as:
- fire safety management
- building construction
- means of escape and
- testing and maintenance of sprinklers or fire warning systems.
We will also be carrying out visits to assess buildings from an ‘operational risk’ point of view. We need to understand each building's specific details and risks so our firefighter crews can safely and effectively manage any incidents.
2. We will (offer to) visit individual homes
The aim of these visits is to help residents understand how they can reduce their risk of fire. You don't have to have this visit, but we encourage it. These visits will be carried out following the latest government guidance on coronavirus.
If you live in one of the buildings we are due to visit, you should hear from your building owner or responsible person with information about the visit.
Read more about what happens at a home fire safety visit.
How can I be safe living in a high-rise building?
Living in a high-rise block doesn’t mean residents are more at risk from fire. As with any home, it’s important to reduce the risk of a fire starting in the first place, and know and plan an escape in the event of a fire.
Read more about high-rise living.
More high-rise building visits after December 2021
We are always looking at ways to improve your safety, as well as ensuring the safety of our firefighters. So, as well as the government-commissioned Building Risk Review, we will be visiting all the high-rise buildings (a total of 175 including the 87 mentioned earlier) in Devon and Somerset. This will include mixed-use buildings, hospitals, offices, and student accommodation.
Further information about the Building Risk Review is available from the National Fire Chiefs Council.