Fire experts to be quizzed at City Hall over tower block danger

EXPERTS are being quizzed this-morning at City Hall on the danger of fire facing thousands of families in tower blocks across London. Safety regulations are being looked into by the London Assembly to see if inspections are keeping pace with changes in design and construction

By Mike Brooke

EXPERTS are being quizzed this-morning at City Hall on the danger of fire facing thousands of families in tower blocks across London.

Fire safety regulations are being looked into by the London Assembly to see if inspections are keeping pace with changes in design and construction techniques.

The Assembly wants to establish the risks associated with timber-framed and tall buildings during construction, occupation and subsequent modification.

Its Planning & Housing committee wants to see how fire safety rules might be tightened, with 16 of the 19 boroughs in the UK with more than two per cent of the population living on the fifth floor or higher being in London.

Many high-rise blocks are in the crowded East End, where nearly one-in-10 families live above the fifth floor, latest census figures for Tower Hamlets show. This is matched in London only by Westminster.

Some 129,000 people across Inner London live above the fifth floor.

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More than 1,000 fires in London last year were above the third floor, including 92 on the 10th floor or above, according to the London Fire Brigade.

The Assembly’s planning committee is to question Fire Brigade Commissioner Ron Dobson, UK Timber Frame Association chairman Geoff Arnold, Royal Institute of British Architects’ Sam Webb, Local Authority Building Control chief Paul Everall and Construction Industry Council’s policy executive Ciaran Molloy.

The public meeting at City Hall begins 10am which can be viewed on the London Assembly’s website via webcast.