With post-Grenfell compliance remaining the top priority for social landlords, David Morgan, Executive Managing Director, Wates Property Services, shares fire safety and maintenance best practice in a COVID-led world.
Post-Grenfell fire compliance
Local authorities and housing associations are facing continued urgency in post-Grenfell fire safety compliance investment.
Over the last three years, much of our focus has been on the removal and replacement of cladding and installation of fire compliance measures and this work is understandably sensitive and important. What the social housing sector needs is a maintenance provider able to deliver the highest quality and ensure accurate record keeping, in accordance with building owner requirements.
Recently, we have also been working with our local authority and housing association partners to retrofit high rise building sprinkler systems. This follows the introduction of new height thresholds for new residential buildings by the government earlier this year. While this new guidance does not account for retrofitted systems, many of our customers are rightly embracing these new measures in order to preserve the safety of their residents. The onus is on the construction sector to make this process as efficient and cost effective as possible.
Leaders in fire safety
Wates’ reputation as a leader in fire safety and compliance is growing. Our most recent appointment takes our fire safety and cladding portfolio to over 200 tower block projects nationwide. This is something we are rightly proud of but is thanks entirely to the efforts of our people to maintain extremely high standards in what is an undeniably challenging sector. While speed and effectiveness is absolutely crucial, it’s our responsibility to ensure residents feel safe and secure in their homes and this has only increased since the coronavirus pandemic. Communicating our progress is a high priority for us as we strive to keep our employees and residents safe while also keeping disruption to a minimum.
We have a wealth of experience to draw on. In partnership with Birmingham City Council, we transformed Barry Jackson tower, a disused 20-storey tower block, into much-needed temporary accommodation for up to 160 families.
We were responsible for a comprehensive programme of works that included sprinklers, fire lifts, wet and dry and risers, automatic opening ventilators, smoke extraction systems and automatic door actuators, complete with a stand-by generator and new water tanks.
Supporting social landlords
Investment in tower block maintenance and fire safety has never been more important and to be entrusted with this by clients across the country demonstrates our teams’ expertise in carrying out complex compliance contracts. We have a decade of proven capability in supporting social landlords and I’m looking forward to building on this and providing our clients with the confidence and peace of mind that their residents are living safely in their homes.