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High-rise fire safety in Worcestershire

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Response to C4 Dispatches, 18 February 2019

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) inspected all eight high-rise residential properties in Worcestershire to assess fire safety arrangements.

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HWFRS checked communal areas, escape routes and any firefighting equipment within them, and re-issued safety advice to residents and building owners.

HWFRS also assessed the construction of the buildings to ensure that none of the high-rise accommodation in the county included the aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding that covered Grenfell Tower.

HWFRS has robust procedures in place for tackling fires in high-rise buildings. Local crews hold up-to-date building plans and information on the high-rise buildings in their area. Familiarisation visits and training exercises are carried out at these sites and firefighters undertake regular training exercises, including those in real high-rise buildings, to prepare for any emergency.

High-rise buildings are designed to specific fire safety standards and include specialist fire doors, floors, and walls that stop the spread of fire and smoke. Evacuation plans are determined by the property manager and should be clearly signed in communal areas. We advise everyone to familarise themself with their building's evacuation plan; which may be an evacuation or a 'stay put' directive.

'Stay put' advises that residents remain in their property if the fire is not in their flat or in an adjacent neighbour's flat, keep the front door and windows closed, and await further instructions from the emergency services.

Area Commander Mark Preece said: "Advising on the 'stay put' policy is the responsibility of the owner or housing manager of each high-rise block, who is required to risk assess the property and consider the means of escape, the availability of sprinklers, the type of occupancy, and the fabric/construction of the building in determining the advice given to the residents, in the event of a fire.

"Residents of high-rise properties are encouraged to arrange a free 'Safe and Well' check by the Fire and Rescue Service, by calling 0800 032 1155."

More information on 'High-Rise Living' – including a free downloadable booklet – are available on the HWFRS website.

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pr034.highrise_update.CR.feb19.jaa (ACMP)