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Sussex firm carried out refurbishment of Grenfell Tower

Sussex firm Rydon, which carried out a £8.6 million refurbishment of the exterior of Grenfell Tower last year, installing cladding and new windows, said its work "met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards".

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Tower blocks: safety assurances in Southampton

Tower blocks in Southampton are being refurbished Credit: ITV

Our thoughts are with the families and friends of everyone at Grenfell Tower in London. The fire this week was truly horrific and I am not able to properly convey how sorry we are for everyone who has been affected by this event.

I know that many of you have been asking a question about the situation in the block that you live in and this letter is going to every household in our high rise tower blocks whether you have received ECO improvement works, receiving ECO improvement works, or have not yet had such improvements to your block.

External Wall Insulation (EWI) has been installed in eight tower blocks, and work is currently taking place to install it in three more tower blocks. Our plan is also to install it in the three remaining blocks some time in the future.

The EWI system that we are using in Southampton is based on Rockwool, a mineral product that is naturally fire resistant. This is considered to be a safe, standard, robust system that is fully certified.

The council has received assurance from the manufacturer and installer of the EWI system that it is safe and is fire resistant. Full fire risk assessments were carried out prior to installation and there was full liaison with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS).

The council also employs a specialist fire safety consultant to provide independent, expert advice and assurance on fire risks in its tower blocks and other properties.

We are working with the manufacturer and installers of the EWI system, the independent fire safety consultant and HFRS to review the EWI specification and fire safety arrangements in the light of the tragic events in London, but there is nothing at all to suggest that the system is unsafe in any way.

Advice in the event of a fire:

Each flat in our tower blocks is designed to ensure that, if a fire occurs, it is kept within each flat.

In the case of a fire, taking account of the design of our blocks, the advice from the council and from HFRS remains to stay put –‘unless the fire is in your flat or a direct neighbours, keep your front door and windows closed, tune in to your local radio and wait for further instructions from the emergency services’.

Further advice is available from the HFRS website:

https://www.hantsfire.gov.uk/keeping-safe/loveyourhome/highrise

I trust that this reassures you that we are carefully committed to the safety of our residents and that we carefully make sure, when carrying out any work, that the correct materials are used - and are installed to the correct standards.

We will of course review the findings as the investigation into the tragic events in London proceeds, to see whether anything further needs to be done to make our housing safer.

Should you have any specific questions please ask your local Neighbourhood Warden, or Housing Management Officer and they will make sure you get an answer.

– Steve Smith, Service Lead Council Housing & Neighbourhoods

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