Revealed: The number of housing blocks needing urgent fire checks


The full extent of residential blocks with cladding in London which need urgent investigation after the Grenfell Tower disaster started to emerge today.

Many town halls have called in specialist teams to carry out checks on high rise towers to ensure they do not pose a fire risk.

As firefighters continued to search through the wreckage of the 24-storey Grenfell Tower following the blaze, in which 79 people died or are missing presumed dead, London Mayor Sadiq Khan today demanded residents are given a say in the public inquiry from day one to make sure they retain confidence in the process.

He warned there was already “considerable mistrust and anger” among the local community, in particularly towards those in positions of authority.

Across London, in Newham, the council has identified that the same company which carried out the cladding work at Grenfell Tower also refurbished one of its blocks, Ferrier Point.

Grenfell Tower aftermath – In pictures

However, an initial investigation shows that the material used is of a different type.

The council stressed that it can tolerate high temperatures, is used to create firewalls and meets industry safety standards for external insulation on walls of multi-storey buildings.

Hounslow is liaising with the Communities Department on testing and inspections of seven out of the 35 tower blocks in its area, which have had rain screen cladding systems installed on them.

Councillor Katherine Dunne, its Cabinet Member for Housing, has written to residents to stress the significant differences in the cladding used compared with that reportedly on Grenfell Tower.

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Fire tore through the west London tower block in the early hours of Wednesday morning(Jeremy Selwyn)

In Barnet, three blocks have been fitted with external rain screen panels of aluminium composite material which is similar to what media reports say was used on Grenfell, but the insulation used for them is non-flammable, said the local authority.

Enfield said external insulation cladding is installed on five blocks, three of which are fully clad and two partially clad.

“From the technical information we have from the time of the installation, we believe that the cladding used is non flammable Rainscreen but we are removing some panels from the buildings this week in order to confirm this by laboratory analysis,” said a council spokesman.

Aerial footage shows the full scale of the fire

In Haringey, 12 of the tower blocks owned by the council have been externally clad.

But it stressed tht none of these blocks have the aluminium cladding system reportedly used on Grenfell.

In Barking and Dagenham, the council has identified four residential blocks with cladding but stressed it was different to the Grenfell type.

Waltham Forest said it had a number of blocks with external insulation, but none using the same cladding as Grenfell.

Greenwich is checking cladding on 11 high rise blocks, five of the blocks are so far known to meet “Class 0” fire safety regulations.

Enfield has two fully and one partially clad residential block, with the cladding believed to be non flammable.

Camden has 13 cladded blocks but says it is a different design to Grenfell.

Lambeth has 14 residential blocks over six storey high with cladding, in Richmond there are two social housing 15-storey blocks with cladding but insulation is said to be non-flammable rockwool, while in Brent there is one high rise with cladding but it is different to Grenfell.

The figures for the boroughs are just for social housing and not private sector developments.

Islington Council has put on hold all planned work to install cladding on council properties including on Ilex House, Gambier House, Halliday House and Arlington House.

Croydon council announced it will install sprinklers inside all 25 tower blocks in the borough higher than ten storeys, at an estimated cost of £10 million, in direct response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The council has already begun a review of its estate to test materials used to clad 16 blocks.

A spokesman said the independent checks have so far confirmed materials used in four of these  blocks are good-quality and fire retardant. The review is expected to conclude by the weekend.

Meanwhile, a family who escaped the Grenfell Tower blaze today described being “15 minutes” from death as they were declared safe and well.

Jose Suarez, 60, and his wife Dorinda, 58, were asleep in their flat on the 13th floor when a neighbour alerted them to the blaze at 1.15am – minutes before the fire intensified and spread.

The Portugese neighbour was hailed as a hero for the early warning he gave to the Suarez family and others on the floor.

The couple, who moved to London in 1989 from Coruna, in north west Spain, managed to make their way down the stairs to the ground before smoke overcame the building.

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