Grenfell fire risk assessments: ‘Some Hackney leaseholders’ front doors compromise safety of the whole block’

All councils have been ordered to carry out fire risk assessments in the wake of the Grenfell Tower

All councils have been ordered to carry out fire risk assessments in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire that has claimed at least 80 lives, according to police. Rick Findler/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Some leaseholders in flats are “potentially compromising the safety of the whole block” in the event of a fire – because they haven’t got the right front doors.

Hackney Town Hall

Hackney Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Fire risk assessments (FRAs) carried out by Hackney Council in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster have shown that many leaseholders do not have fire doors installed, despite them being a legal requirement in flats.

The Gazette asked the council how many properties were affected – but it could not confirm a figure because it is still in carrying out assessments.

Fire doors are specially designed to automatically close behind you in the event of fire, and should provide 30 minutes of fire resistance or smoke control should a blaze break out, by holding flames back and stopping the spread into escape routes, corridors and other flats.

A report by Michael Scorer, director of housing services, has been published ahead of a town hall scrutiny meeting on Monday.

As freeholder the council holds responsibility for some doors and could charge leaseholders for replacing them with compliant ones. However many leaseholders are directly responsible.

The Gazette has been told a door and frame could cost as much as £1,800.

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Mr Scorer said: “Once we identify a door that needs replacing we will write to the leaseholder. We would expect this to be undertaken promptly. In the event of any leaseholder refusing to comply with this request, it may be necessary – as a last resort – to injunct the leaseholder to comply in order to ensure the safety of other residents in the block.”

Since the Grenfell block fire in June, 60 iron security gates and grilles – which could have hindered firefighters or blocked escape routes in the event of a fire – have been removed from estates by the council.

Many residents installed the metal bars on their doors and windows as a crime prevention measure years ago, but never sought planning permission. In 2011 the council tried to clamp down on them because of fire safety and about 1,000 have been removed - but it is thought that some 2,000 still remain which residents have been advised to remove “for their own safety”.