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Building risk review programme for Devon and Somerset

We are supporting a national programme called the ‘Building Risk Review Programme’ which aims to:

  • Make high-rise and high risk residential buildings safer
  • Give the government, and local fire and rescue services, a better understanding of high-rise residential buildings in the UK

It is estimated that there are 11,000 high-rise residential buildings in the UK. In Devon and Somerset, there are 87 buildings which are in scope for the building risk review project. These 87 buildings are of mixed use, but mostly residential, and over 18 metres (or six or more floors) high. We will be visiting all of these buildings between October 2020 and the end of 2021.

Government funding for fire alarm systems

The government has announced a £30 million fund to pay for the costs of installing fire alarm systems in buildings with unsafe cladding. The fund will cover the up-front capital costs of installing an appropriate alarm system, on or after 17 December 2020. The government plans to open the fund in January 2021.

To be eligible a building must:

  • be in the private sector
  • be over 18 metres in height
  • have an unsafe cladding system
  • have a Waking Watch in place where these costs have been passed on to leaseholders.

The responsible person should apply to the fund and any responsible persons are encouraged to start considering what information they are likely to need in order to make an application as soon as possible. For more detailed information visit the government website.

What have we done already for high-rise buildings?

The first step in the national Building Risk Review Programme, which covered the inspection of Aluminium Composite Materials (ACM) clad high-rise residential buildings in England, means there are now no high-rise residential buildings over 18 metres in Devon and Somerset with ACM cladding. We have worked alongside building owners to adapt identified high risk buildings by removing ACM, fitting of sprinklers and installation of fire warning systems.

What will happen at a building risk review visit?

Phase two started in October 2020, and will ensure all buildings are inspected or reviewed by the end of December 2021.

We will be visiting the 87 high rise buildings in scope for this project in two parts:

1. We will inspect and review the building as a whole
We will carry out an audit of fire safety arrangements within the building such as fire safety management, building construction, means of escape and testing and maintenance of any systems such as sprinklers or fire warning systems.
We will also be carrying out visits to assess buildings from an ‘operational risk’ point of view. This means we need to understand the specific details and risks of each building so our firefighter crews can safely and effectively manage any incidents.

2. We will (offer to) visit individual homes

The aim of these visits is to help residents understand how they can help reduce their risk of fire at home. You do not have to have this visit, but we encourage it to help residents understand how they can reduce the risk of fire in their home. These visits are likely to be in early 2021 and will be carried out following the latest government guidance on coronavirus.

If you live in one of the buildings we are due to be visiting, you should hear from your building owner or Responsible Person with more information about the home fire safety visit.

Read more about what happens at a home fire safety visit.

How can I be safe living in a high rise building?

Living in a high-rise block doesn’t mean residents are more at risk from fire but as with any home, it’s important to reduce the risk of a fire starting in the first place, and know and plan an escape in the event of a fire.

Read more about high-rise living.

What does phase two of the Building Risk Review mean for responsible person/s (RPs) in Devon and Somerset?

We are now starting to get in touch with all the responsible persons for the 87 buildings in scope for this project to arrange our visit.

More high-rise building visits after December 2021

We are always looking at ways to improve the safety of communities of Devon and Somerset, as well as ensuring the safety of our firefighters responding to incidents. This means that as well as the government-commissioned Building Risk Review, we will also be visiting all the high-rise buildings (a total of 175 including the 87 mentioned earlier) in Devon and Somerset - this will include mixed use buildings, hospitals, offices, student accommodation.

Further information regarding the BRR is available from the National Fire Chiefs Council.


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