A SURVEY of the cladding on a block of high-rise apartments in Basingstoke could change its current fire policy procedure, after concerns were raised about the policy during an inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell.

The managing agent of Churchill Place has told the Gazette that an order has been placed to carry out a survey of the building, which was converted from an office block in 2017.

The company has asked for surveys of all blocks higher than 18 metres, and, depending on the findings, it could result in a change to the current ‘stay put’ policy, which advises residents to remain where they are if there is a fire and they are not immediately at risk.

Concerns have been raised about the safety of residents living in the town centre building if there was a fire.

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One resident, who moved in during May last year, submitted a Freedom of Information request to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service raising concerns following the fire at Grenfell in 2017 when 72 people died in the 24-storey tower block, which also had a ‘stay put’ policy.

The chair of an inquiry into the Grenfell fire demanded an end to ‘stay put’ policies for all high-rise blocks, and that owners and managers of these buildings should be made to draw up evacuation plans.

The second phase of the inquiry has been delayed until March.

The Churchill Place resident pointed out there are no fire assembly points or information about what to do and where to go if a fire broke out in the block.

The fire service confirmed that it has not inspected the building since 2013, prior to it being converted to residential use.

It added: “Subsequently, we do not hold the information requested.”

It advised the resident to contact the agent to ask for the fire risk assessment for the premises, and request a “person-centred risk assessment to be completed by the managing agent”.

A spokesperson for the managing agent of Churchill Place told the Gazette: “There is a ‘stay put’ policy in place at Churchill Place and as such there would be no requirement for fire assembly points. Any resident with concerns about the policy are welcome to raise and discuss them with us directly.”

They added: “Our original guidance is fully in line with the National Fire Chiefs Council’s ‘stay put’ position statement, which advocates that residents not immediately at risk should remain where they are and notify the emergency services as soon as they are aware.

“The ‘stay put’ policy details that residents who are immediately at risk should make their way to a safe place.”

Regarding the upcoming survey, they said: “Depending upon the findings of the survey, the ‘stay put’ advice may change and if so, we will work with the local fire officers to ensure that any policy which needs to be adopted is put into place and all residents made aware.”

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s group manager Tim Gates said: “The evacuation plan is owned by the ‘responsible person’ or building owner and depends on the design of the building.

“The majority of high-rise blocks of flats were designed with a ‘stay put’ policy and unless there are issues with the building this remains an appropriate policy.

“Our crews regularly visit buildings in Hampshire to familiarise themselves with the layout and features to assist with operational considerations.”

For more information about building evacuation plans visit https://www.hantsfire.gov.uk/keeping-safe/loveyourhome/highrise/