Late last year I blogged about the fire safety visits the Fire Brigade were undertaking on estates in the borough and commented that I’d be taking advantage. And I did.
We had our visit last week and, after they had a look around the house, we were left with some tips (we really shouldn’t be using double plug adapters at all, and we need to be a little more conscious about escape routes) and two new smoke alarms – one of which replacing the old one that went off every time we made toast.
Well worth it for the smoke alarms alone, and you never know, the fact we’ve replaced the double plugs with strip adapters may have saved us from a fire.
The visits are free and can be booked online, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0800 028 4428.
I went out with local firefighters (and Martin Johnson, the council’s Executive Member for Housing) to Copeland House on Garratt Lane this morning as they visited local residents offering a fire safety visit and free smoke alarms. They are running a programme of visits to housing estates around the borough.
Recent tragedies have highlighted the need for fire safety, the Camberwell fire perhaps the most high profile incident recently, but here in Wandsworth a tragic fire over the weekend claimed the lives of a young mother and her daughter. Wandsworth has a good record on fire safety, for example council flats and houses will have smoke alarms fitted before any new tenancy. However, many still live without even that most basic protection.
What the fire brigade were doing today was a fairly simple exercise. Having written to residents previously, they knocked on their doors today offering to fit free smoke alarms and give fire safety advice.
I was amazed, however, that people were saying no! I’m not quite sure why some people were hesitant, there’s no catch and no-one is bothered about your home being a mess. Personally, if I was offered something that might save my life, and offered it for free I’d be taking the offer up.
In fact, I am taking that offer up. Chatting with one of the fire-fighters I realised that our house probably isn’t adequately covered, so I’ll be booking in for a fire safety check. You can either book online, email email@example.com or call 0800 028 4428 to get one for free.
The recent, tragic, fire in Camberwell has heightened concerns about fire safety, so I thought it would be worth using the blog to highlight the (I think) good situation in Wandsworth.
For a start, there aren’t any blocks in Wandsworth that bear direct comparison with Lakanal House, the scene of the Camberwell fire. Although there are some blocks with a similar, ‘barrier’, design none are more than ten floors high and only one has a single staircase, but this does have an open access balcony and private balconies to the rear. If there were a fire in the tallest of these blocks the Fire Brigade able to get a ladder to the top.
The council also undertake a number of tests and inspections to make sure our blocks are safe. For example dry risers get checked weekly and a full, wet, test every year and risks and blockages in communal areas are checked and removed daily. New tenants get smoke alarms and existing tenants can get new ones installed for free on request – the housing department are working with the Fire Brigade to target properties where they have no record of an alarm being fitted.
Risk can never be fully removed, but Wandsworth’s housing department is doing some excellent work in making sure it’s reduced as far as possible.