Following the disappointing news that fire retardant cladding at LMH’s Marwood Towers block does not meet the new standards set by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), Chief Executive Steve Coffey joined Liverpool Deputy Mayor Ann O’Byrne at the Everton scheme as the first panels were taken down.
Cladding at Marwood Towers is being removed as a precautionary measure, ahead of a managed replacement programme that will begin as soon as practicably possible.
The site visit was also an opportunity for LMH and Liverpool City Council to reassure residents that fire safety measures in place make the block amongst the safest in the UK.
Steve Coffey said, “Clearly, we are shocked and disappointed that the fire retardant cladding has not met the new BRE standards.
“The BRE agreed that the cladding has a Fire Retardant Core, unlike that used at Grenfell Tower, but now seems to have set a new requirement for Category 1 Non Combustible Core cladding.
“The advice we have received from independent organisations including Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service confirms that the measures in place at Marwood Towers make this one of the safest blocks in the country.”
These measures include the installation of ‘fire stops’ to seal any openings and joints, and prevent fire spread between the cladding panels. This additional safety feature was recently checked and found to be present, fitted correctly and in good order.
Marwood Towers also has sprinklers in every flat and communal areas, as well as heat and smoke sensors linked to a communal alarm system and fire doors with automatic closure mechanisms.
“These safety measures, which will not be present in the vast majority of other blocks around the country, were installed as part of a comprehensive Fire Safety Plan that also includes regular site inspections and an annual risk assessment,” Steve said.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Ann O’Byrne said, “We have a duty of care to ensure every public building meets all relevant fire tests and does not pose a threat to life. However, the Government are not helping the situation by failing to clarify the details of these new fire tests on cladding which just a few months ago were rated safe.
"Equally, this focus on cladding is clouding over other key factors raised by the Grenfell disaster and not enough weight is being put on other safety elements in towers such as sprinklers, fire alarms, smoke alarms, fire doors and evacuation plans.
“As a result the public are being led to focus on one small element of a much bigger picture and especially those who live and work in private sector buildings which the Government is shamefully failing to hold to account.”
Fire marshals have been put in place at Marwood Towers whilst the cladding is removed and a fire safety audit is being carried out by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and LMH staff to provide tenants with individual reassurance.