Greater Manchester has set out plans to develop a world class approach to fire safety, after the June tragedy at Grenfell Tower caused nationwide concern about the safety of high rise buildings.
Greater Manchester’s High Rise Task Force has proposed a number of measures to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority – including the retrofitting of sprinklers, a consistent approach to fire safety and for the fire and rescue service to be consulted at all stages of a building’s life cycle.
The Task Force was set up by GM Mayor Andy Burnham to provide fire safety reassurance to thousands of local residents in high rises across the city-region.
The proposals come as Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) completes the inspection of over 500 residential high rises, to ensure they comply with fire safety regulations.
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett, who is leading the High Rise Task Force, said: “Since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, Greater Manchester has taken swift action to reassure all our residents their homes are safe as quickly as possible.
“As we continue to ensure the safety of our residents, we are also working to make sure our voice is heard nationally and that steps are made so that a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again.”
The study carried out by the Task Force in the months since Grenfell has shown that there is currently no requirement for key safety requirements such as sprinklers in all high rise buildings.
The Task Force is proposing to develop a new system of fire safety in Greater Manchester, which will overcome most, if not all, of these issues.
However, in the absence of clear guidance or funding from the government, housing providers are having to fund interim measures themselves – and they’re struggling to determine the most appropriate course of action when it comes to ensuring a building’s safety.
Removal of cladding has been underway for some time now, yet the solution to replace the affected cladding still seems unclear.
Mr Dennett added: “We need Government to step up and provide the funding and resources we need to swiftly and effectively carry out this work, particularly around the replacement of cladding systems and retrofitting of sprinkler systems.
“Public bodies and emergency services are already struggling as a result of budget cuts and austerity. The Government needs to act now to remove any barriers to keeping people safe.”
The Task Force includes landlords of tower blocks as well as representatives from every local authority in Greater Manchester and other specialist officers who can offer support to ensure every high rise is safe.
The work of the Task Force will inform a GM response to the national public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower. GM will also submit evidence to the Government’s independent review of building regulations and fire safety, which will highlight concerns and conflicts in existing legislation.
Image courtesy of BBC Newsnight via YouTube, with thanks.