ALEXANDER HOUSE FIRE SAFETY WORKS
UPDATE: 5 July 2021
Section 20 Consultation: further to recent legal notice sent to residents for in the re-procurement of our planned maintenance contracts for windows and doors and roofs, we can advise that this was sent out as a result of an administrative error. Please ignore this notice, as it is not relevant for Alexander House. We apologise for any confusion or distress this may have caused.
We can confirm that residents will not be recharged for the replacement of the external windows as part of the fire safety works we will be carrying out.
UPDATE: 22 June 2021
We can now confirm that the specification for the works has now been finalised, and we are now in a position to go out to tender, which is good news. Unfortunately, the actual process of appointing a contractor will take further time to complete and, it is with apologies, that we have to say we do not expect the work to begin until at least the autumn.
Although we are hopeful that we will be in a position to start work in the autumn, we need to point out that this is not only subject to us being able to appoint a suitable contractor, it is also subject to appointing one who can commit to starting the work as soon as we want them to. We will, of course, do our best to appoint a contractor who can start as soon as possible, but there are legal and legislative processes we have to follow, to ensure we appoint the right contractor with the experience of undertaking this type of specialist fire safety work. We are also seeing that contractors are in very high demand.
We appreciate this is probably not what you expected, or wanted, to hear and we can only try to reassure you that we are doing our very best to get this important fire safety work arranged.
We would like to further reassure you that your safety remains our number one priority and, until such a time when we can confirm an actual date for the work to start, we will keep in contact with you and provide any updates we can, via email and here. We are also keeping in touch with Rushmoor Council and local councillors, as we know some residents are contacting them, and we want to be able to reassure them that we are working to appoint the right contractor and start the work as soon as possible.
If you are a leaseholder who lets out your flat privately, please advise your tenants of this update.
UPDATE: 12 April 2021
We are continuing to work on finalising the legal contract and specification of work, before going out to tender. Unfortunately, the legal aspects are taking longer than first thought, and we would like to apologise for this, but it is important that we get these right before we tender the works and appoint a contractor. We hope to be able to go out to tender to appoint a contractor shortly, and to start on site in July, but this timetable may be subject to change.
Our priority in this process continues to be your safety.
UPDATE: 17 February 2021
Following the residents' meeting in November 2020, we have taken on board the concerns raised by homeowners about the cost of replacing the windows. Because of the extensive remedial works being carried out at Alexander House, the cost of which we have already agreed to meet, we have decided not to recharge homeowners for the window replacements. Please get in touch if you have any questions about this.
UPDATE: 25 January 2021
We have received confirmation from Rushmoor Borough Council that they have approved the planning application for the fire safety works at Alexander House. This is to replace the rendering on the building, and replace the windows with grey uPVC windows. The link below is to the Council’s planning portal and includes more details about the decision.
We are finalising the specification of work and contract documents, and the next stage is to tender the works and appoint a contractor, which will be in the next couple of months.
UPDATE: 4 November 2020
We have been working hard to ensure the fire safety of our high rise buildings our residents live in meets the latest legislation and guidance, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
We have taken positive steps at each stage and, following investigations into the external cladding at Alexander House, a number of shortfalls have been identified. We are now liaising with Rushmoor Borough Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and other key safety stakeholders in implementing all the interim recommendations.
Our longer term view is that the external cladding will need to be replaced. Specifications have been prepared to ensure our buildings meet the latest Building Regulations Approved Documents.
This page has been created as a source of information to keep you updated with the remedial works project.
CURRENT FIRE SAFETY POLICY
If there ever is a fire at Alexander House, the evacuation process, (which is set by Hampshire Fire Service), is what is known as a single stage evacuation.
This means you should leave your home as soon as the fire alarm sounds. Please do not stop to collect any of your belongings, just leave as safely and as quickly as possible.
Follow the green exit signs in the building and always use the stairs, never the lifts. Once you get outside, stay a safe distance away from the building and don’t go back inside until you are told it is safe to do so by a member of the fire crew or a person of authority.
As your landlord, we have certain legal obligations when it comes to fire safety, and protecting our homes and our residents. These include:
- Carrying out fire risk assessments on your home and in communal areas to make sure escape routes are kept clear.
- Making sure your front door meets with current fire safety standards.
- Fitting special heat and smoke detectors. (If the detectors are linked to a fire panel, they will be checked by our contractors every year).
- Weekly tests of fire alarms in buildings that have a fire panel.
- Checking fire safety signage displayed around your building is up to date.
What can you do?
You can help us to help you keep safe by:
- Letting us in if we need to carry out an inspection of your home.
- Keeping corridors and stairways clear.
- If you have a doormat, making sure it is thin rubber with non-slip backing.
- Keeping meter cupboard doors in communal hallways locked.
- Testing your smoke detector weekly and keep it working properly by keeping it clean.
You can also help us by letting us know if there is anything we can do to help you stay safe from fire in your home. For example, is there any equipment we could provide, or would you feel safer if you had your own evacuation plan? Would you like us to put you in touch with Hampshire Fire Service to arrange a home safety check? These are just some of the things we can help with. Your local fire service is Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service:
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
Tel: 023 8064 4000
Alexander House, Fire Safety Meeting
Robert Mills, Director of Customer Experience and Holly Sheppard, Contracts Manager met with residents via a Zoom meeting to provide an update on the latest Fire Safety work at Alexandra House.
(Published: 25 November 2020)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Does Alexander House have any ACM (aluminium composite material) panels on the building?
No, but Alexander House has an External Wall Insulation (EWI) system, which was retrofitted onto the original construction at the time conversion around the year 2000. The EWI system is wrapped around the whole building and is the light blue coloured material.
2. What type of EWI system does Alexander House have?
Alexander House has an EWI system and the manufacturer is Relius. The materials used in the construction are as follows:
- Render top-coat (3mm).
- Plastic reinforcement mesh.
- Insulation 110mm EPS (Expanded Polystyrene).
- Cement sheathing board.
3. Has the EWI system been independently inspected?
Yes, it has been independently inspected. The findings have been reported to us.
4. Has Accent received an independent report?
Yes. We are still reviewing the report and identifying how to apply the recommendations based on further information we need from Building Control and the independent fire safety expert.
5. How long have you had the report?
We received the finalised report on Tuesday 10 March 2020.
6. What recommendations does the report make?
- To review the top floor flats to determine the materials used in their construction.
- To consider the replacement of the EWI system.
7. How long will the work to meet the recommendations take to complete?
There are a number of factors that need to be considered before a clear timeline can be agreed. We have set up a dedicated project team to work with our customers and external experts including Rushmoor Council and the independent fire safety experts. This will ensure we understand the impact and cost of the work that needs to be done.
We will be talking to you as soon as we know more about what work we will need to do, and how long it is likely to take.
8. You wrote to us in 2017 advising of an independent report and that the building was safe. What has changed and what is different now?
In 2017, a fire specialist inspected the building and made a number of recommendations. These resulted in remedial work that we did immediately. The independent expert reported to us that the fire integrity of the building was robust and safe. They also reported that no further action was required over and above the remedial works we carried out.
However, since the Grenfell Fire Tragedy, the Ministry of Housing, Culture and Local Government’s (MHCLG’s) guidance has changed.
Advice Note 14 was introduced by the Government. It provided a ‘decision tree’ (a tree like model of decisions and their possible consequences) relating to the suitability of external wall materials of residential buildings over 18 metres (6 storeys) high. We have therefore followed the guidance and reviewed and analysed the EWI system installed. This has led to some concerns over the suitability of the EWI system and us now considering its replacement.
9. What does this mean for Alexander House customers?
This now means that due to current guidance, we will be working with Rushmoor Council and independent fire safety experts, to assess how we can safely and practically progress the recommendations that have been made for the EWI system and the four top floor flats.
10. Who is going to pay for any works required?
We are currently reviewing all funding options, including the recent budget pledge by the Government to help landlords pay for external wall material removal.
We can assure you that we will bear the cost of the work required. No costs will be passed on to customers.
1. Is Alexander House safe?
Yes, we believe Alexander House is safe. We would not allow customers to stay in any unsafe home or building.
2. Am I safe in my home?
How safe you are in your own home very much relies on you making sure your home complies with standard fire safety regulations. We would be more than happy to inspect your home and offer fire safety advice.
3. What assurance can you offer me that I am safe?
To be safe in your own home please check you have the following:
- A working smoke/heat detector alarm in your kitchen and hall.
- A half hour fire door, with strips and seals to the entrance of your home protecting you from a communal fire.
- Internal walls which provide a minimum 30 minute fire protection between properties.
- A working communal fire alarm and detection system that is independently checked monthly.
If any of these are not in place, please contact us.
- Our fire safety assessor carries out a weekly inspection of the building and reports any remedial works to be completed.
- Hampshire Fire Brigade undertake a joint annual inspection of the building. There are no current concerns.
4. Do I stay put or evacuate if the smoke/heat alarm sounds?
We have taken advice from Hampshire Fire Brigade on what our customers should do in the unlikely event of a fire in the building. Their recommendation is that if the smoke/heat alarm sounds within your flat, you should evacuate. If you hear another alarm from another property, you should stay in your home unless advised by the fire brigade.
5. I am worried about fire safety, do I have to move out?
No. Based on the most recent fire risk assessments, carried out in January 2020, and taking into account the fire prevention measures in place, the risk of a fire in the building is low.
6. Are the fire brigade aware of Alexander House and the EWI?
Yes. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are aware and we are working together to make sure customers are safe.
7. What extra fire safety measures are Accent putting in place until the remediation works are complete?
We have introduced weekly inspections of the building. There is also a dedicated project team, which includes independent fire safety experts, Rushmoor Council and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, which regularly reviews the fire safety risk of the building.
8. Do you undertake Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs)?
Yes, we undertake annual fire risk assessments by internal fire safety assessors and ensure any remediation works raised as part of the FRA process are carried out.
9. Can we see a copy of the FRAs?
Yes. We are looking at how we can best share this information with you. Currently, our FRAs are stored in an internal computer system and there isn’t a straight-forward way to share the detail in a format we can send to customers.
10. How do we report any potential fire risks or concerns we have?
It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure we are all safe. If you have any concerns, or see people undertaking work you think we might not know about, (e.g. Sky installation), please contact us on 0345 678 0555 or e-mail: Aldershotfiresafety@accentgroup.org
1. Will this have any impact on the value of my property?
It is difficult to say at this time. Any potential purchasers may not be able to obtain a mortgage, due to mortgage lenders requiring confirmation of a building’s safety. A building’s safety, for conveyancing purposes, is established through the External Wall System (EWS) process. This has been agreed by the RICS and banks and building societies. Until the works are completed, the fire expert completing the EWS will not be in a position to sign off the EWS form. Further details can be found at www.lease-advice.org
2. What happens if I am currently trying to sell my property?
Unfortunately, at the moment, we don’t think you will be able to sell your property on the open market. However, once the works are complete, and the buildings are compliant, the EWS form can be signed off, and you should be able to sell your property.
3. Will Accent buy my property?
Unfortunately, no, we cannot buy back your property, However, once the remedial work has been completed, we will be able to advise you on how to sell your property on the open market.
4. I have a private tenant, what will you do to help me and them?
If you sub-let your property, we expect that you have landlord insurance in place that would cover such eventualities. If you live in one of the four top floor flats, we do need to talk to you about what happens next for your tenant, and we will be in touch with you directly.
1. Who do we speak to if we have further queries or questions?
If you have any further questions, please email your enquiry into the dedicated email address we have set up, Aldershotfiresafety@accentgroup.org.We will ensure the right member of the project team responds or speaks to you as appropriate, within one working day.
2. How will you keep us informed?
We will be in touch with you regularly to keep you informed of progress or important changes. We are also happy to have face to face conversations and will arrange a customer meeting before the work starts on site.
Because of the current Coronavirus outbreak, we will need to take account of current Government advice about the holding of face to face meetings, but do let us know how you would prefer us to keep you informed.
3. What else do Accent need to do to assess the building?
We are not aware of anything else required to assess the building. However, as Government guidance and best practice is reviewed, we will continue to monitor the fire safety of Alexander House, and further investigation works may be required.
Fire Safety at Alexander House
If you've got any concerns or questions please get in touch using this form