Views:

We made budget provision for a three-year programme to survey all our tall buildings, to ensure they complied with safety standards at the time.

We have carried out initial observational surveys on all our tall buildings (over 18m) to see what type of cladding, if any, is in place. After this we put a programme in place to prioritise more intrusive investigative surveys, where our initial observational surveys showed they were needed. Some of our intrusive investigative surveys are now coming to completion, but others still need to be carried out.

How do I know if my building is safe?

Your safety is our biggest concern and we are committed to ensuring fire safety across all our buildings is to the highest possible standard and in line with fire safety guidance. All our buildings are regularly assessed by competent persons using a fire risk assessment and we have a programme of continuous day to day safety and maintenance that is separate to our remedial works programme.

What fire safety measures have been put in place?

Following intrusive inspections and under guidance from our fire safety professionals and fire engineers, we identified that some of our buildings needed risk reduction measures to be put in place until remedial works can be completed. These have included:

  • 24/7 waking watch who are there to monitor the building for signs of fire and to sound an evacuation signal should a fire occur. They will also assist, where possible, with evacuation and ensure any risk associated with fire is reduced.
  • Temporary fire alarm system to alert residents of fire within their block and sound a building-wide evacuation signal.
  • And/or any other system considered appropriate for any specific risks related to the building.

What is a fire risk assessment?

All our buildings are regularly assessed for fire risks. The Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) are completed by a competent, qualified fire safety professional, and looks at:

  • how likely a fire is to start
  • what the consequences would be if a fire did start
  • what needs to be done in the building to minimise the risk of fire starting or spreading

A fire risk assessment covers the communal parts of a building that all people can use, such as stairwells and entrance halls and considers the general fire precautions in place to protect people who are allowed to be in the building or those nearby. Precautions are designed to:

  • reduce the risk of fire starting – e.g. ‘no smoking’ or regular checks of electrical sockets or lights
  • reduce the risk of fire spreading – e.g. fire doors
  • alert people to a fire in the building – e.g. smoke alarms
  • let people escape from the building – e.g. clear and signed escape routes
  • tell people what to do if a fire starts – e.g. evacuation plan
  • reduce the harm caused if a fire starts – e.g. fire extinguishers or sprinklers

How often a fire risk assessment takes place, depends on the type of building and the number of homes inside.

What does an investigative survey of my building involve?

Intrusive investigative surveys look at how the building was constructed, the materials used and whether it meets fire safety standards. These surveys can only be carried out by specialist fire engineers approved by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and this typically involves three phases.

A phase 1 survey is observational, where an engineer conducts a visual inspection of the building and decides from that, whether a further, more intrusive survey is needed. A report is then sent to our fire safety professionals.

The phase 2 survey is where a fire engineer will mark up areas of interest on photos sent from the phase 1 report, such as where cavity barriers should be located around doors and windows or lines where a compartment floor should be etc. An intrusive survey is then carried out on the areas highlighted by the fire engineer.

Phase 3 is a detailed report by the fire engineer making observations and highlighting non-conformances from the phase 2 survey. Where necessary, they will make recommendations on remedial work and any risk reduction measures needed in the interim.

An intrusive survey can involve samples of the external wall system, such as cladding, being sent off for testing to a specialist laboratory to examine its performance in fire.

Which buildings are being investigated?

Our investigative programme is currently focused on our tall buildings of 18m and above (usually 7 floors).

Fire safety legislation hasn’t changed in the UK since October 2006 when the Fire Safety Order was published but since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, the Government has been publishing incremental guidance notes about fire safety for buildings. Up until January 2020, the latest guidance required landlords to investigate all tall buildings above 18m high.

New advice issued in January 2020 by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, refers to all Multi-storey, Multi-occupied Residential Buildings. This advice is under consultation and not yet in place. Whilst we are reviewing this revised guidance to see how we can make sure our future plans align with it, we are not currently investigating buildings that are below 18m.

Why hasn’t my building been investigated yet?

We are currently investigating buildings that are above 18m in height (usually 7 floors) or where we believe there are issues with cladding. We have prioritised our inspection process according to the greatest risk. This means that the buildings we believe to be safest will be later in our programme of intrusive investigative surveys. Fire Safety professionals, in particular fire engineers have been in extremely high demand right across the whole of the UK and the nature of the investigative surveys and different stages involved, means the whole process can take some time.

What happens after you carry out an investigative survey on my building?

There are several steps that we take after carrying out investigative surveys:

  1. If repair work needs to be done, A2Dominion will arrange for a project team to scope the plan of the works required
  2. The scope of works may need to be approved by the local authority planning team
  3. We will need to follow the required process to select a contractor to do the work
  4. We will consult with leaseholders and shared owners if they are required to contribute towards remedial costs
  5. Throughout this process, we will keep you up to date, including providing you with information on what work is going to be carried out on your building, with the expected start and finish dates
  6. When work is completed, approved fire safety consultants will check and issue A2Dominion with formal fire safety certification.

What can I personally do to improve fire safety where I live?

Check out the information on our website, about what you can do personally to prevent fire and improve your own safety.

Where can I get further help?

If you have any questions about your lease or shared ownership arrangement, please contact our Customer Contact Centre on 0800 432 0077.

How do I find out more about the surveys and works planned for my building?

To find out more about planned works email buildingprojects@a2dominion.co.uk.

Further information for leaseholders and shared owners only

What if I want to sell the lease on my property, re-mortgage or staircase?

As a leaseholder or shared owner, will I have to pay for the works that are required for my building?