Over the weekend, lots of last-minute letters were delivered to residents stating that a “Fire Safety Upgrade” was due on Wednesday this week. But why such short notice (Technically, we are only allowed 24 hours notice for works like these, and this just achieves that),
As part of the still ongoing Grenfell Tower Inquiry, fire regulations were changed in law back in October this year. This brought areas, which were previously the responsibility of the Fire Brigade, under the direct control of local authorities. It also added areas such as external cladding into the regulations. This means that now, landlords must “ensure that routes to emergency exits from premises and the exits themselves are kept clear at all times”. What does this mean?
Primarily, it means that ALL items in any emergency escape route, which includes communal staircases, must now be removed on sight or report to the council. There is now wiggle room in the law, it is literally black & white. This came into force on 1 Dec 2021 (Under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005), so someone in the council must have suddenly realised this and on Friday decided to get in touch with their contractors. I have written to the council to confirm this timeline, but I assume if the council knew earlier, they would have informed us earlier.
What happens next? Initially, the survey will be carried out this week, but immediately, you are liable to have any items in communal stairwells removed without notice by the council, if they obey the law. I shall update you when I have more answers from Waltham Forest Council (LBWF).