£4m tower refit after blaze in flats

Sheffield Homes fire safety story'L to R: Naz Hussain (Sheffield Homes Estates Service team), Marie Smith (Leaseholder), Deborah Byrne (Chair of Longley Hall Farm TARA), Cllr Harry Harpham
Sheffield Homes fire safety story'L to R: Naz Hussain (Sheffield Homes Estates Service team), Marie Smith (Leaseholder), Deborah Byrne (Chair of Longley Hall Farm TARA), Cllr Harry Harpham
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SHEFFIELD Homes is spending £4 million on modifications to cut the risk of fires in blocks of flats after a devastating blaze in a London tower.

Ttenants will have to play their part by moving clutter and plastic plant pots.

The housing management firm, which looks after Sheffield’s 42,000 council properties, says it has already ‘successfully managed to reduce the amount of fires within communal areas’ of the buildings, with just two incidents this year.

A new procedure was introduced after the Lakanal House fire in Southwark in July 2009, which killed six people.

A Sheffield Homes spokesman said: “We have been working closely with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to ensure tenants are safe. Remedial work has happened at all 25 tower blocks and 30 sheltered housing schemes. Over £2m has been spent.”

Work includes installing sprinklers. A five-year programme of modifications has been developed for the communal areas of the council’s 3,200 low rise flats and maisonettes, costing another £2m.

It follows concern from the fire service that communal areas in low rise blocks have furniture and combustible materials which would help a fire spread and block exits.

Tenants are being asked to clear communal areas

The Sheffield Homes spokesman said: “Failure to implement this work, could result in serious injury or potential fatality should a fire take place and a corporate manslaughter charge for Sheffield Homes.”

Marie Smith, a leaseholder at Longley Hall Farm, said: “Carrying out this fire safety work is a good idea. We appreciate that we have to remove things like carpets and plastic plant pots.

“We are working with Sheffield Homes and the Tenants and Residents Association to arrange alternatives such as fireproof door mats.”

Coun Harry Harpham, Council cabinet member for housing, said: “We will be working closely with tenants and leaseholders.”