Residents of an Ipswich tower block have been told by firefighters to leave their homes for a second time after more fire risks were identified.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said they were left with "no option" but to issue a second Prohibition Notice to everyone living in Cardinal Lofts after they received new information about the state of the building's structural problems.In November 2022, the fire service issued a prohibition notice to the top three floors of the building but were later reassured that safety measures - such as a fire alarm system and waking watch to help with safe evacuation in the event of a fire - would allow residents on the other floors to remain.
Now they say the issues are much worse than they first feared and that everyone still living in the building, should leave immediately.
Last month, the building’s owner, Grey GR, advised the evacuation of the entire building after carrying out an independent risk assessment of the property.
At that time, Suffolk Fire and Rescue decided against issuing a Prohibition Notice based on "the risk mitigation measures remaining in place for anyone who chose to stay" but that they have now received "new information" about the structural issues at the property.
They said the problems have turned out to be "significantly worse" than the compartmentation report supplied by Grey GR suggested.
Toby Gray, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s Area Manager for Prevention and Protection, said: "Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service will only ever issue a Prohibition Notice when all alternative options have been exhausted as we appreciate how devastating it is for people to leave their homes.
"In the case of Cardinal Lofts, we have recently learned that the state of the building is worse than previously thought, posing a danger to occupants, and putting our firefighters and the waking watch at risk of serious injury or death in the event of a fire, meaning it would be highly irresponsible for us not to enforce an immediate evacuation of all floors.
"We are disappointed on behalf of residents that the fire service was not fully informed about structural issues at the property.
"Had we been made aware of these dangerous defects when the first Prohibition Notice was issued, months of uncertainty and confusion for those living at Cardinal Lofts may have been avoided.
"Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has repeatedly urged Grey GR to provide a timeline for remediation works to give residents the clarity they deserve, and remains committed to working with partners, including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to seek the best outcome for all those affected.
"An updated Fire Risk Assessment, which would give a holistic picture of the hazards, risks and potential mitigation for the building, has still not been provided to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service by Grey GR, despite this being requested 18 months ago.
"In the meantime, the service continues to work with Grey GR to help the management company reach a resolution that addresses safety concerns and enables all residents of Cardinal Lofts to return home as soon as it is safe to do so."
A Grey GR spokesperson said: "While we understand that this is a distressing time for residents, the prohibition notice issued today by SFRS aligns with the recommendation from Grey GR’s fire safety experts that the building be evacuated to ensure resident safety."We ask all remaining residents still residing in Cardinal Lofts to comply with the prohibition notice."
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