Concerns over fire safety at block of flats in Chichester

Concerns have been raised about the fire risk at a block of flats in Chichester where ‘potential issues with compartmentation’ have been identified.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 12:04 pm
The Hyde Housing development off Winden Road. Photo: Google Images

Hyde Housing have put in place a 24/7 fire marshal patrol of Grainger House in Winden Avenue and changed the fire strategy from ‘stay put’ to ‘simultaneous evacuation’.

A detailed, intrusive fire risk assessment was carried out at the building on Friday.

A resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said people living at the property had been suffering from noise problems at the building for some time.

He said he could hear a ‘continual thumping and banging’ from the flat above, which had been so bad at times that he had been forced to spend the night elsewhere in order to be able to sleep.

The noise concerns had led to fears about soundproofing between floors of the building, he said, and therefore the risk of fire spreading.

“It is a potentially serious situation,” the resident said.

He said it was ‘kind of reassuring’ to have the 24/7 patrol in place, but said: “They should have put it there an awful long time ago.”

Hyde Housing said the potential issues around compartmentation had been identified following advice from external fire safety experts.

Compartmentation refers to the way buildings are subdivided through fire doors, floors and walls of fire-resisting construction into manageable areas of risk, in order to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.

A spokesman said the ‘waking watch’ had been in place at the block since October 23.

Using a patrol to prevent fires in high rise buildings was one of the recommendations made by the National Fire Chiefs Council following the tragic blaze at London’s Grenfell Tower in 2017.

Hyde Housing said it was still awaiting the full report from the inspection on Friday.

A spokesman said the results would give them ‘a better understanding of any work that may need to be carried out’.

Councillor Sarah Sharp, who confirmed she had received complaints from residents about noise and smells, such as tobacco smoke, transferring between floors, said: “Our residents’ safety must come first and foremost.

“Residents need absolute assurance that the build quality of this development is thoroughly investigated so that residents’ concerns can be quickly put to rest.”

Liz Oliver, Hyde’s Interim Director of Compliance said: “We continue to work with our residents at Grainger House, as well as key stakeholders including the local councillor.

“The safety of our residents and buildings is paramount and Hyde is determined not to take any risks.”