THE COUNTY'S fire service has issued safety advice to residents of a Basingstoke apartment block that has combustible material in its cladding.

As previously reported by The Gazette, Crown Heights has the flammable substance expanded polystyrene (EPS) in its external walls.

The lack of fire breaks has caused safety concerns for residents and it could cause the fire to engulf the building, in a similar manner to the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 2017.

Now, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) have issued advice to residents concerned for their safety.

Jason Avery, assistant director of prevention and protection at HFRS, has said that the force recognises "concerns" that residents will have.

He said: "We recognise that residents will have concerns in relation to the emotional and financial impacts of the interim safety measures put in place and we will continue to work with those at Crown Heights to provide advice and support on the actions to take in an emergency. 

"Whilst the waking watch remains in place, the building has a temporary change to a simultaneous evacuation strategy until a new alarm system is installed.

"We have taken a number of steps as a result of the recent External Wall System report, including updating the information Fire Control holds on the building to ensure we can respond appropriately in the event of a fire.

"We will continue to liaise with the residents of Crown Heights and urge them to discuss any concerns they may have with us and the Responsible Person, FirstPort."

HFRS has written to residents of Crown Heights to advise them of support they can offer, and there is free advice available on their website.

They are also urging all residents who may have issues evacuating in the event of a fire to contact them. You can find out how here.

After the results of the survey in December 2020, FirstPort, the building's management firm, wrote to residents advising them to evacuate in the event of the alarm sounding. This reversed the earlier 'stay put' advice.

Additionally, a 24-hour patrol known as a waking watch has been introduced whilst a new alarm system is fitted.