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Fire chiefs warn about cladding on three tower blocks

Fire chiefs have warned about dangerous cladding. Credit: PA Images

Potentially dangerous cladding is still attached to the outside of three tower blocks in Tyne and Wear - but fire chiefs for the region say they are still confident of the safety of families living within the high rises.

They have also said they are working with the owners and operators of the buildings.

The admission and reassurance from bosses comes after more than 200 firefighters were called to fight a blaze at the Cube student accommodation, in Bolton, Greater Manchester, on Friday, November 15.

Chris Lower, chief fire officer (CFO) at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said:

There are three buildings in Tyne and Wear with similar cladding.

Our fire safety teams are in contact with the buildings' owners and have carried out a number of advisory visits and those residents are currently safe.

If there is a fire we will react appropriately and we're working with all three of the buildings' owners to seek the removal of the cladding.

After the Grenfell Tower fire] there were 19 towers [with potentially dangerous cladding] and we're now down to just three, one of which has self-declared recently.

– Chris Lower, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

Fire chiefs have declined to name publicly which high rises still have the cladding, although owners, operators and tenants of the buildings are aware.

CFO Lowther was speaking at a meeting of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, which also heard a report on the findings of the Grenfell Tower inquiry.

Concerns have once again been raised about external cladding following Friday's fire in Bolton, which CFO Lowther said was different to the aluminium composite cladding (ACM) of Grenfell Tower, but had lead to a 'broadly similar' outcome.

But he reassured the public firefighters were now more aware of and better prepared fight potential blazes, thanks to measures agreed with building owners.

He said:

Firefighters will be aware of the potential for heightened risks.

The Cube, in Bolton, was on Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's high risk list and once the fire started, on the basis of that, very few injuries occurred as a result.

If they had turned up without that information you may not be assured of the same outcome in Greater Manchester.

– Chris Lower, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service