Statements on safety from Brookes and Unite following Grenfell Tower tragedy

We have asked for statements from Oxford Brookes University and from Unite on safety of buildings.

Statement from Oxford Brookes University

Given the tragic incident at Grenfell we have made sure that our buildings continue to be of the highest standards for safety.

All our campus buildings are fully fire rated and designed with extensive fire resistance and safety features which meet the approved fire strategy. In terms of new builds there is a fire engineer employed by the University to ensure we comply with current regulations, which would include cladding.

We will continue to monitor the situation in case of any changes to regulations.

 

Here is Unite’s statement on fire safety which was sent to Oxford Brookes University, Unite manages Dorset House and the new Beech House development on the corners of London Road and Latimer Road.

In light of the recent tragedy in London, I wanted to give you some reassurance about Unite Students and our buildings. Below is a detailed outline of what we do and how we operate in respect to fire safety.

The safety of our properties is a key priority so we have, for some time, been working with Avon Fire and Rescue Service as part of a primary authority scheme to make sure that our buildings, policies and procedures not only comply with existing regulations but exceed them. This is supported by a robust fire risk assessment regime carried out in each premises using experienced accredited fire risk assessors who are members of the Institution of Fire Engineers. In Scotland we also undergo a rigorous licensing scheme on all properties as part of the House in Multiple Occupancy Regulations.

All of our properties comply with building regulations and have the necessary life safety systems installed that match the individual requirements of the building in question. This may include but will not be limited to alarm systems, sprinklers, dry/wet risers and automatic smoke ventilation. It is important to note that each premises will have different requirements in terms of installed fire safety systems dependent on aspects such as the number of floors, the number of escape routes and when the building was constructed or refurbished.

We have fully addressable L (Life) type fire alarm systems in all of our properties which means that all areas of the premises are covered with detection, including bedrooms, kitchens, plant rooms and communal areas. Our trained staff are alerted immediately to undertake a fire investigation at the point of activation and where necessary co-ordinate evacuation.  This alarm is also connected to an internal ARC that is manned 24/7 and 365 days of the year. 

Our fire alarm systems work on a phased evacuation, which means that residents will be prompted to evacuate based on risk and the presence of fire or smoke that could present risk and so as to not impede the fire service.  We do not operate a stay put policy and in the event of smoke or heat being detected, our systems assume that a fire situation is present and all residents are prompted to evacuate.

To support our fire safety systems, we also undertake routine inspections of our compartmentation to ensure that the fire strategy of the building is not compromised. This is done with third parties who are members of the “Association for Specialist Fire Protection” and double checked as part of our fire risk assessment regime.  This compartmentation strategy incorporates fire doors throughout the premises which are all fitted with self-closers to ensure that compartments are maintained.

All of our life systems are robustly tested in line with British Standards guidelines by competent staff and accredited third parties to ensure that they are operational at all times.  We conduct routine inspections on all plant and equipment including electrical and gas systems using accredited personal and third parties.

In 2015, we conducted a review specifically looking at the cladding on our high rise buildings, for reference this is properties with ten stories or more. Following this week’s tragic events, we have launched a further urgent review to assess whether we need to tighten up our current procedures in any way and will monitor and remain current with any findings or recommendations following an investigation into this event.

In addition to the physical fire safety measures we have in place, our staff are trained on their duties to undertake with regards to proactive and reactive fire safety management, which includes building inspections, routine fire alarm testing, evacuations and inductions for residents.

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