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Materials used on Finsbury Park council flats broke fire safety rules

Insulation probe as fire wardens patrol 12-storey block

07 September, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Fyfield on the Six Acres estate in Finsbury Park

THE Town Hall is investigating how materials that were not compliant with fire safety rules were installed on a block of council flats in Finsbury Park.

Housing chief Diarmaid Ward has apologised to residents in Fyfield on the Six Acres estate after external wall insulation was found not to meet current building regulations.

Fire wardens are now patrolling the 12-storey block around the clock while the council begins to remove the insulation and the render over the top of it.

Cllr Ward, who was elected in the years after the installation, said there was no increased risk of fire and the building remained safe with the extra measures in place.

He told the Tribune: “We are doing an audit right across the borough because we owe it to our residents to make sure that the borough is as safe as it can possibly be.

“It shouldn’t be there, we are sorry, it’s not good enough and that’s why we have taken the action we have taken.

“We will be investigating how that happened, but I’m not making excuses, but the bottom line is that it didn’t match building regulations, that’s not good enough and that’s why we are taking the action.”

The problem came to light last week during the council’s review of fire safety across its 35,000 homes. The insulation – called expanded polystyrene (EPS) – is sealed under a render, which is wet when applied but then becomes hard.

Building regulations state this can be used on smaller buildings, but not those categorised as tall buildings – those above 18 metres, approximately six storeys.

The EPS insulation began in 2008 on the estate, and was put on Fyfield in 2010. It was part of a huge project to revamp the estate, built in 1968.

The council admitted it was not compliant with building regulations that were updated in 2006.

A meeting was held with residents on Tuesday night. They have also been informed by letter and door-to-door visits
from the council’s house staff.

Cllr Ward added: “As always, we are working closely with the London Fire Brigade and they are aware of our actions so far and our plans to remove the insulation. We will follow any additional recommendations they make.”

The Town Hall had to remove aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from Braithwaite House in Clerkenwell last year after the Grenfell Tower fire.

A council spokeswoman said last month there were nine blocks, including four falling under 18 metres, which the Town Hall knows have failed cladding safety tests.

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