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Fire risk reports for Norwich council tower blocks revealed

PUBLISHED: 07:55 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:50 02 October 2017

Firefighters deal with a blaze at Normandie Tower, Rouen Road, Norwich last week. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Firefighters deal with a blaze at Normandie Tower, Rouen Road, Norwich last week. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

archant 2017

The spotlight has rightly been put on fire safety in tower blocks after the Grenfell disaster, so what do the latest risk assessments say about Norwich’s high rises?

A fire at Normandie Tower, Norwich. Picture: Marc BettsA fire at Normandie Tower, Norwich. Picture: Marc Betts

The city council has eight tower blocks and is carrying out a fire risk assessment into all of them.

The last risk assessments, which date back to 2014 and 2013, show a low or medium risk at all the blocks.

But the last time full assessments were carried out was more than three years ago.

The other seven tower blocks were all risk assessed in 2014.

There is no law around how frequent the assessments should be carried out, but all the assessments were reviewed after a year, the council said.

Winchester Tower in Norwich. Photo: Steve AdamsWinchester Tower in Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Here is what the last risk assessments found:

Ashborne Tower, Heartsease

This 11 storey 1960s block was last fully risk assessed in October 2014 and was given a low-medium risk on all four areas assessed - arson, potential fire spread, risk to property and risk to life.

The report said there were no fire alarms in communal areas, something found in several of the council blocks, but each flat did have a smoke detector.

Fire risks found included doormats in corridors and clutter on landings.

Burleigh Tower, Heartsease

Compass Tower, Heartsease. 
Photo: Bill SmithCompass Tower, Heartsease. Photo: Bill Smith

This tower block was also risk assessed in October 2014 and given a low-medium fire risk for all four areas.

The assessor found some doors and letterboxes were damaged and there was clutter on landings.

It recommended fitting an automatic sprinkler to the rubbish bay.

Compass Tower, Heartsease

The 1960s block was also given low-medium risk in the four areas assessed in October 2014.

It recommended reviewing and updating the fire plan.

Burleigh Tower, Heartsease.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYBurleigh Tower, Heartsease. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

None of the flats had public access to fire extinguishers because of the risk of theft and vandalism, the report said. It found there were some clutter on landings and some doors did not close properly.

Aylmer Tower, Mile Cross

Most flat doors did not have fire proof letterboxes but a programme was underway to replace them, risk assessors said in their report from November 2013.

Risk to life and property was classed as medium whereas fire damage and arson was a low risk.

As with the other tower blocks, it also found the fire plan should be reviewed.

Markham Tower, Mile Cross

Aylmer Tower. Photo: ArchantAylmer Tower. Photo: Archant

This was the scene of one of Norwich’s worst tower block fires in 2011. No-one was hurt in that blaze but residents had to be evacuated from all 44 flats in the building.

In the November 2014 risk assessment it was rated as a “low-medium” fire risk in all four areas.

Like Aylmer, assessors found letterboxes were not fire proof but this was being dealt with by the council.

Seaman Tower, Mile Cross

This was inspected in November 2014 and rated as a medium risk to life and property and low for fire spread and arson.

It said all residents were aware of what to do in an emergency but again issues with letterboxes were raised.

Markham Tower, Mile Cross, after fire damage in 2011. Picture: Denise BradleyMarkham Tower, Mile Cross, after fire damage in 2011. Picture: Denise Bradley

The report also said lobby door frames on the first floor had large gaps in them and a fire door on fourth floor was damaged.

Normandie Tower, Rouen Road

Fire crews were called to the 16-storey block on September 19 to a blaze on the fourth floor.

The fire is believed to have been caused by incense sticks setting curtains on fire.

The last risk assessment in July 2014 found the sprinkler system at the bottom of the rubbish chute needed 
amending.

It also found seven letterboxes needed replacing with fire-proof ones.

Communal area fire doors also needed adjusting as they had large gaps in them.

It also said communal areas needed to be kept clear of clutter.

The fire risks were low to medium.

Winchester Tower, off Vauxhall Street

The 16-storey block of 95 
flats was also given a low to medium risk in the four fire safety areas.

The 2014 report recommended modifying the sprinkler system at the bottom of the rubbish chute and adjusting fire doors.

Door mats should also be removed from corridors it said.

It found two letterboxes were not compliant with fire regulations.

All city council tower blocks are now being risk assessed again.

•Read the full fire risk assessment reports for the city’s tower blocks here

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