Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Review Group - Fire Safety
Tuesday, 31st October, 2017 9.30 am

Venue: Ground Floor, Civic Offices

Contact: Julia Cleary  01902 555046 Email: julia.cleary@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

9.30 - Feedback from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 104 KB

[Tea and Coffee will be available.

Please note that the minutes of the previous meeting will be sent to follow]

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel considered a video that had been submitted by Wolverhampton homes. The video was shown to all new tenants. Some concerns were raised in relation to the advice on opening windows as this could depend on where the windows were and how many of them there were. The group also noted that the Idea that smoke always rises was not true as when it got cold the smoke would fall. Concern was also expressed regarding the advice to put wet towels against doors as not everyone could and the advoce in relation to  having to make a value judgememt as to whether a resident felt safe.

The Chair agreed that the video was a bit simplistic but it was noted that this would depend on how it was used and the context. 

 

The Chair noted the good practice in Aston where they had now identified all of the vulnerable people and appointments were automatically made for the fire service to attend, these appointments could be cancelled but at least vulnerable people were initialy targeted.

 

The group agreed that it was important to ensure that existing and older tenants also had access to the video and fire safety information.

 

The Panel considered the minutes from the previous meeting and noted that if the Council only took care of its own schools then there was a weakness in the organisation and pressure needed to be put on the Academies to get them to the table and if they did not want to take part then this needed to be publicised. The Group considered that it was about safety going forward, and that if the acadamies did not work with the Council then it needed to be made clear that there had been opportunities but that they were turned down.

 

The Chair noted that private companies did not have to publicise fire safety/risk assessment results and considered that these should have to be made public.

 

 

 

 

 

2.

10.00 - Wolverhampton Homes

[Lesley Roberts – Chief Executive

Simon Bamfield – Head of Commercial Services and Stock Investment.]

 

Minutes:

The chair introduced all of those present and thanked everyone for attending.

 

It was noted that after the last meeting clear that there was some very good work going on in Wolverhampton Homes. The Group were aware that there had been a flooding incident recently which had also been dealt with very well. The Group noted that the Fire Service and the City Council had been very complimentary in relation to the relationship they had with Wolverhampton Homes.

 

The Chair questioned those present as to their roles and input into Fire Safety.

 

Mr Simon Bamfield (Head of Stock investments):

Mr Bamfield pulled together fire safety within the organisation inclusing areas such as compliance and delivery of capital programmes and ensuring that any new works were compliant with regulations.

 

Mr Myk Kozuba (Stock Investment Manager):

Mr kazuba was responsible for fire risk assessments and dealt with any issues relating to these including monitoring any actions that may have arisen. Mr Kazuba was also responsible for ensuring that all fire risk assessments were up to date.

 

Mr Darren Baggs (Assistant Director – Housing):

This role had grown over time and Mr Baggs was a member of the Fire Safety Committee. Mr Baggs managed the concierge service and all communications that dealt with the flats.

 

The Fire Safety Committee was responsible for reviewing all fire safety measures and lessons learnt, the Committee met regularly and was chaired by the Director of Operations Mr Shaun Aldis. The Committee fed back the Mrs Lesley Roberts (Chief Executive) and to the Board. .

 

The Chair requested an example of a change that had been made following feedback from the Fire Safety Committee. Mr Kazuba referred to the fact that cables in communal areas had now been strapped up and that work was being carried out in relation to flat entrance doors with some having now been replaced.

 

The Chair queried how Wolverhampton Homes would deal with a front door that opened onto a communal area?

 

Mr Baggs stated that the leaseholder would take on responsibility and that over time some residents had changed their doors and they had to comply with the fire regulations. When a door was found not to be compliant with regulations following a fire safety inspection then contact was made with the owner and a certificate requested. Mr Baggs stated that there had been legal challenges on this and injunctive action had been carried out. At the moment  out of 70 leaseholders only one door was outstanding that required changing or a certificate of compliance.

 

The Panel queried whether Wolverhampton Homes also checked the door surrounds. Mr Bamfield stated that yes it would be the full door suite which included the frame. This was checked with all new installs and a form had to be filled in with photographic evidence as to the work being done. It was confirmed that leaseholders also had to prove that the work was compliant or enforcement action would be taken.

 

The point was raised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

11.00 - Wolverhampton Homes - Concierge Service

[Lesley Roberts – Chief Executive

Darren Baggs – Assistant Director of Operations.]

Minutes:

The Chair noted that the i10 building had got ACM cladding on it and that the Concierge staff had no training there if an alarm went off.

 

Mr Baggs stated that the staff have had previous training and onsite training and that he sought to constantly reinforce this.

 

Concerns were expressed in relation to people who had trouble walking and it was stated that extra people could be at a property within 5 minutes to help.

 

The Group queried whether there was a list showing which properties had people who need additional help and whether if it was known that there were a large number of people in a certain flat with extra needs would Wolverhampton Homes increase the number of concierge staff there.

 

The Group also queried what the role of concierge staff was in the event of a fire and how they worked with the fire service?

 

The Chair stated that he understood that if there was a problem they would be able to swamp the block with staff but that the Fire Service would not want concierge staff rushing in.

 

Mr Baggs stated that the concierge staff ensured clean, safe and secure environments for the residents. There were 48 buildings with CCTV at door entry which was monitors 24/7 centrally. Onsite checks and litter picking activities were also carried out. The role of the concierge was to prevent fire not to fight it.

 

In relation to the St Joseph’s Court flood, the concierge service had raised the alarm through the out of hours call service and the control room had then taken over the chain of command and officers had been deployed.

 

Mr Baggs stated that blogs from Grenfell had shown that the firefighters had been disoriented and unaware of which floor they were going to so Wolverhampton Homes had taken steps to repaint all the floor numbers lower down so firefights could see what floor they are on in relation to knowing who was in a property it was stated that this could never be 100% as staff might not know if a resident was on holiday or had a visitor. The Northgate system was refreshed daily to show if tenants had any mobility issues and officers had list at St Joseph’s courts immediately and shared this with the Fire Service. It was then the fire services call whether to evacuate the building. The list was on a shared drive so easily accessible.

 

The Chair stated that the Council’s resilience team were looking to get a data base together based on safe and well visits so may in the future not even require that list. Mr Baggs stated that the advantage of Northgate was that the information remained up to date with people moving as this type of information could become out of date very quickly.

 

The Group queried how many concierge there were and it was confirmed that there were 36 so there was not one per building. It was however confirmed that the concierge  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

13.00 - School Safety

[Phil Reilly – Health and Safety Advisor

Natalie Barrow – Health and Safety Advisor.]

Minutes:

Officers confirmed that there were 42 schools under the control of the Local Authority.

 

The Chair stated that the Group were looking for reassurance regarding the building of new schools with cladding systems and seeking information in relation to what work was being done regarding the safety of these schools.

 

Officers stated that a key area was the way that safety was procured and that previously there had been a SLA with each school. This had created a 2-tiered health and safety system across schools if they bought into it. For example, if you worked in the Civic Centre you may have received a different level of health and safety than if you were a colleague working in a school.  Officers now wanted to be able to be in the right place when needed rather than rely in a restricted bought in service which had now stopped.

 

Officers had looked at existing fire risk assessments and now applied the same standard in schools as across other areas of the organisation with a competent person carrying out fire risk assessments.

 

The Chair stated that at the previous meeting it had been stated that there were problems with previous fire risk assessments in schools that had been carried out prior to 2015. Information was requested as to what training the assessors now received and how it was monitored.

 

Officers confirmed that yes there were concerns prior to 2015 and that a full audit had highlighted areas of concern. Officers were now seeking to bring about one gold standard across the entire organisation. Health and Safety staff were working closely with Neale Shore in Corporate Landlord and Sam Bunch (Fire Safety consultant).

 

The Chair confirmed that he had met with Sam Bunch who was a very qualified officer. The Chair also confirmed that Neale Shore was a consultant.

 

The Chair requested information as to how many in house employees had the right level of qualifications to carry out fire risk assessments.

 

It was stated that Neale Shore had appointed area officers – 2 had now gone through fire risk assessment training so they had the expertise to carry out low risk, low complexity risk assessments. These employees would now advance their knowledge by shadowing Sam Bunch as far as possible and the use of CPD. There were no other officers that the Health and Safety Officer was aware of with the required expertise.

 

The Group questioned whether two officers were enough given the circumstances and the need to look across such a vast sector and any new builds that might be on the way.

 

It was stated that Neale Shore did have a team of 5 – 1 had moved on, 2 were trained and there was uncertainty a t the 5th. It was considered that given the size of the organisation that there could be more expertise and there was concern regarding the extent to which the Council had to rely on Sam Bunch.

Important areas included the carrying out of risk  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

14.00 - Emergency Planning and Resilience pdf icon PDF 126 KB

[Mick Shears, Resilience Officer will provide a presentation to the Group followed by a question and answer session]

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Mr Mick Shears, Resilience Officer to the meeting.

 

The Emergency Planning and Resilience Team was a team of two that covered emergency planning, business continuity and priority functions in the Council.

 

Exercises were carried out on a weekly basis, these were desktop exercises specifically for Duty Managers to help them consider the decisions they were making. There were about 35-36 Duty Managers and they were available 24/7 during the week they were on duty. The Duty Manager would assess and coordinate an appropriate response to a major incident, approve resource allocation and brief the Duty Director. There were about 10 Duty Directors who were ultimately responsible to the Managing Director.

 

Tactical Control Room was where staff would make decisions in relation to the incident. There was also a set of screens in a secondary location in the City. It was noted that the primary location down steps and was not accessible for wheelchair users at the moment and there were currently no plans at to change this. The Group noted that there was a pre-emptive responsibility to make it accessible under equalities act.

 

There would be 8 people in the control room to start with including representatives from public health, an intelligence officer, a control room manager (chair), Senior communications advisor, 3x functional coordinators and surge seats if required..

 

Mr Shears provided a presentation highlighting what would happen in an emergency situation.

 

The Group queried whether the staff trained to register and record evacuees into rest centres, had any specific training in relation to vulnerable people. It was stated that staff had been told to identify vulnerable people but that they would probably look to other more specialise staff to help with this. There was only one member of staff and the Red Cross would be there as well so most of the work regarding vulnerable people would be carried out by them. The Panel requested that the Council check what training the Red Cross staff have had. 

 

There was a 24 hour contact centre with 2 staff members on each night; these staff were also dealing with care link alarms so were very busy.

 

The role of Rest Centre Manager carried some of the biggest responsibilities. There were 4 primary rest centres and 19-20 smaller rest centres and the required number would be opened dependent on the nature and severity of the incident.  The Group queried whether the Wednesfield North Ashmore Park was on the list but it was stated that this was being refurbished at the time the list was compiled so needed to be revisited.

 

The question was raised as to whether there was a policy to have rest centres evenly spaced across city. The Group considered that it was important to be close to homes for school and work. It was stated that in the short term if there was a large number of people they would have to be put in transportation and moved but in the long term closer possibilities could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

15.00 - Next Steps

Minutes:

 

The Group considered that further clarity and information was required in relation to the where the strategic responsibility for fire safety lay in the City of Wolverhampton Council.

 

The Group also considered that further information was required regarding the situation with cladding and risk assessments in schools.

 

Resolved:     That the Strategic Director for Place, the Strategic Director for People and any other relevant Directors be invited to the next meeting of the Group to be held on 17 November 2017