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City of London

It's been 1 year, 9 months and 6 days since we witnessed the horror of Grenfell - in the immediate aftermath tenants at GAH organised their own survey of their building by a Fire Inspector, there was a flurry of activity from the City, our Ward Councillors (even accompanied by Housing Officers!) held a meeting on the Estate and numerous (at times contradictory) "advice" leaflets were pushed through our door.

At the time, I pointed out the difference between the responses of the City [England's smallest and wealthiest local authority] and Birmingham City Council [England's largest local authority, one of the poorest, one that is struggling with huge funding cutbacks and one of the biggest social landlords in Europe].

I noted that the hundreds of Council tower blocks in Birmingham [from 15 to 32 stories high containing tens of thousands of flats] had all ALREADY been fitted with central, mains powered fire alarms in each flat and sprinklers in each blocks rubbish chute area (where fires have statistically appeared most likely to start) - this was way before Grenfell.

Their immediate response was a programme (rapidly completed) to smoke proof all the entrance doors to each flat (which as a by-product also provides dramatically increased insulation); they have now started sprinkler installation for each dwelling.

Meanwhile, back in the City, GAH finally got a centralised, powered, fire alarm system [the assertion by the then Estate Manger at the meeting mentioned above, that every GAH flat was fitted with a "tamper proof" fire alarm being greeted by sarcastic laughter - not least from a tenant who had been told 4 weeks before by the Estate Office that it was their responsibility to buy AND FIT a new battery to the 25 year old alarm].

While we don't need sprinklers for GAH (the two staircase and dual exit flat design makes them superfluous), many of us have substantial gaps around our "fire-resistant" front doors, or old and untested insulation.

Would it really be to much effort by our Councillors and Housing Officers to make GAH tenants just that little bit safer?

After all, we're not asking for Birmingham's level of concern..........

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