Kettering Council takes action after communal flat fires

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Kettering Council is taking action to increase safety for its tenants in the wake of a number of fires in communal areas.

The authority is set to introduce a Sterile Environment policy, which will ensure its blocks comply with current best practice by making sure that all communal areas in blocks of flats are kept clear of any items.

The move, based on the advice of the Fire Service, follows two recent fires in communal areas on Kettering’s Highfield Estate.

Fortunately, both fires were dealt with swiftly with no injuries, but the incidents alerted the council to the danger.

John Conway, head of housing at Kettering Council, said: “The safety of our tenants is our number one priority.

“We take the recommendations of the fire service very seriously and it is important that we adopt this policy to reduce the risk of fires spreading between properties.”

Cllr James Burton, Kettering Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “I would like to encourage residents in our blocks of flats to help keep communal areas clear of any items to increase tenant safety and reduce any fire risks.”

In the event of a fire in a block of flats, the council runs a ‘stay put’ policy.

Tenants in unaffected flats are advised to remain in their properties while the fire service deals with the incident.

However, the policy is undermined when items are stored in communal areas - such as shared stairways and landings – as they provide fuel for fires to spread between properties, while potentially impeding access for firefighters.

The fire service says that the implementation of a Sterile Environment policy in the council’s blocks of flats will increase tenant safety and safeguard against the threat of fire.

The council is working closely with tenants to make sure the policy is implemented as smoothly as possible.