Fire safety

Fire safety review

Fire safety questions

Tenant management organisations (TMOs)

Reporting problems

Fire safety review

Following June's tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington, we launched a comprehensive fire safety review to ensure the safety of residents living in Council estates.

We completed an immediate inspection within 48 hours of the fire, and it was confirmed that no Council housing in Hackney uses the same type of cladding that was installed on Grenfell Tower.

Our fire safety review includes:

  • independent testing of all cladding installed on Hackney housing estates
  • additional fire risk assessments for priority blocks
  • rigorous checks on all fire safety equipment within buildings, including fire doors
  • reviewing appropriate completed refurbishment or maintenance work
  • investigating problems or issues raised by residents promptly, with repairs or other work carried out where necessary
  • commissioning a report from an independent fire safety advisor on whether sprinklers would improve fire safety in estates
  • reviewing fire safety guidance for tower blocks, in partnership with the London Fire Brigade
  • working with housing associations and other residential providers to share information and ensure any problems are investigated

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What we've done so far

We've inspected all Council estates that have cladding and confirmed that none contain aluminium composite material - the specific type of cladding used at Grenfell Tower.

For this reason, the Council did not submit samples of cladding to the Department for Communities to be tested, like other councils and housing associations who do have this cladding have done.

There is no immediate risk to Council tenants and leaseholders. However, we carried out an independent testing programme of all cladding on Council estates, as part of our comprehensive fire safety review. This testing was carried out by independent experts Cladtech Associates.

The Council is working with housing associations and other residential landlords in Hackney who do have aluminium composite material cladding or other material which has failed safety tests to take appropriate action where necessary and reassure residents. So far, this includes:

  • one block at the Woodberry Down Estate managed by Genesis Housing Association - more information
  • Tan House, managed by Network Homes - more information
  • Ability House, managed by Grainger Plc 

Find out more about the work we've undertaken so far:

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Statement on fire safety on estates

Read an update on the measures we're taking to reassure residents about the safety of Council blocks across the borough:  estate safety update and FAQs

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Fire safety questions

Where can I get information about fire safety?

The Council receives fire safety advice from the London Fire Brigade. If you're a tenant living in a maisonette or flat, see the London Fire Brigade's information about 'stay put' advice.

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What fire safety precautions are in place on Hackney's estates?

All Council blocks have an up-to-date fire risk assessment. As a matter of routine, we meet regularly with the London Fire Brigade to discuss fire risk assessments and other matters to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our estates safe. We also work with an independent fire advisory service to rigorously test and challenge our existing arrangements. We continue to monitor fire safety through estate inspections and the vigilance of our estate-based staff.

Council staff and contractors from Cladtech Associates carried out out tests and reviews. Other work includes:

  • a fire safety review across the borough, which is looking into a range of fire safety measures, such as fire safety signs and the information given to residents
  • an independent review of all cladding used on Hackney estates - this involved taking small samples of cladding from a number of estate blocks to double check what it's made of and ensure it has been installed correctly, is fit for purpose and hasn't undermined the integrity of the horizontal fire breaks
  • a review of fire risk assessments for medium to high rise blocks of five storeys
  • fire risk assessments being made available to view online

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What measures do you have in place to ensure my block is safe?

We have rigorous procedures in place to ensure Hackney's estates are safe. We meet regularly with the London Fire Brigade to ensure we're doing all we can to keep our estates and residents safe. We also work with the independent fire advisory services to rigorously test and challenge our existing arrangements.

All of our buildings have an up to date fire risk assessment. Any priority work needed following these assessments has been done and we continue to monitor fire safety through estate inspections and our estates officers. In addition, all buildings have up to date certification for dry riser testing and electronic certificates - these are assessed twice yearly with one test and one visual inspection.

The Council has set-up a fire safety response group who have visited high-rise Council blocks to undertake fire safety checks using a checklist provided by an independent fire safety advisor. The checks looked at safety measures such as fire safety doors, emergency exits, fire alarms, emergency routes.

We've also written to all estate residents, providing reassurance and London Fire Brigade information. We will also be updating residents in due course with further letters and other Council communications such as Hackney Today and our page on fire safety.

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How many tower blocks are managed by the Council?

There are 181 medium to high-rise tower blocks in Hackney which are five storeys and above.

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How do you check that Hackney's blocks are safe?

All of our blocks have an up-to-date fire risk assessment - which is agreed with the London Fire Brigade. The assessment schedules vary in accordance with that level of risk.

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Will I be able to see the results of the fire risk assessment for my block?

Yes, we will be making the results of the fire safety assessments available to view online. All of our buildings have up to date fire risk assessments. Any priority work needed following these assessments has been completed and we continue to monitor fire safety through estate inspections and our estates officers.

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Is the Council looking to make any changes to estates following the Grenfell fire?

The Council does not use the cladding used at Grenfell Tower. However fire safety is absolutely critical, and we are never complacent.

Council staff and contractors from Cladtech Associates have visited estates to carry out tests and reviews. Other work includes:

  • a fire safety review across the borough, which is looking into a range of fire safety measures, such as fire safety signs and the information given to residents
  • an independent review of all cladding used on Hackney estates - this involved taking small samples of cladding from a number of estate blocks to double check what the cladding is made of and to ensure it has been installed correctly, is fit for purpose and hasn't undermined the integrity of the horizontal fire breaks
  • reviewing fire risk assessments for medium to high rise blocks of five storeys
  • making fire risk assessments available to view online

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Will this review look at cladding?

Yes. The Council have undertaken a review of cladding used on estates using an independent specialist called Cladtech Associates. The cladding was visually inspected and tested to double check its composition and ensure it's been installed correctly, is fit for purpose and hasn't undermined the integrity of the horizontal fire breaks.

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I have cladding on my block - is it the same that was used on the Grenfell Tower?

No. The Council does not use this type of cladding.

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Do you use the same contractor that applied the cladding to the Grenfell Tower?

No, the Council does not use the contractor Rydon.

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What will happen about planned works to the outside of my block?

The Council has put a pause on any works to the outside of estate blocks that require cladding until after the outcome of our fire safety review. Any other maintenance works to the outside of estate blocks, such as general or health and safety repairs, continue.

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How many Council blocks have sprinklers?

There are two blocks in the borough that have sprinkler systems installed due to their design - with a third in progress. These blocks are at no greater risk of fire than any other block in the borough. They both have up-to-date fire risk assessments, and any priority work following these assessments has been completed.

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Will you be installing sprinklers across other Council blocks?

Once we have the results of the review, and on the advice of the independent fire advisory service, we will then look at the option of installing sprinklers in some of our estate blocks.

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Should residents stay put or evacuate if there's a fire in a block of flats?

At the moment the London Fire Brigade's advice about what to do in the case of a fire in a block of flats remains unchanged: stay put if there is a fire in your building and you're inside your purpose-built flat or maisonette, and you're not affected by the fire stay put and call 999.

You're usually safer staying in your own flat or maisonette unless heat or smoke is affecting you. A self-contained, purpose-built flat or maisonette will typically give you between 30 and 60 minutes protection from fire. If you are in the communal areas of the building, leave and call 999.

Get out if there is a fire in your purpose-built flat or maisonette, warn all the people you live with and leave, closing the front door behind you. Follow your escape plan (ie plan your escape and know how to exit the building if you need to) - more details are available from the Fire Brigade. If there's a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air will be clearer - always use the stairs, rather than the lift, and make your way out of the building. Call 999 from any phone as soon as it is safe to do so.

Further information for people who live in purpose built flats and maisonettes

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How is the Council working with housing associations?

We've asked all social housing providers in the borough to investigate the cladding on their properties. Where action is being taken in response to this, we have asked housing providers to write to tenants to update them. The Council will be meeting with local housing associations to discuss fire safety.

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Who's responsible for fire safety in privately rented homes?

If you live in a privately rented home, your landlord or housing provider is responsible for fire safety at your property. The London Fire Brigade can take action if there are fire safety concerns about communal areas such as shared corridors and stairwells, and the Council's private sector housing service enforces against private landlords if there are fire safety concerns inside any privately rented homes themselves. Residents in private blocks of flats should also adhere to the London Fire Brigade's information for people who live in purpose built flats and maisonettes and can book a free home fire safety visit.

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The police have said a fridge freezer was the source of the fire at Grenfell Tower - what do I do if I have the same model?

Owners should register their appliance with the manufacturer to receive any future updates and recall notices. Check you model number which is usually found on a barcode sticker behind the salad container in the fridge.

If you own a Hotpoint fridge freezer model FF175BP (White) or FF175BG (Graphite), you should call the manufacturer's Freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826.

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What is a TMO?

A tenant management organisation (TMO) is an organisation set-up by tenants and/or leaseholders to manage their estate/block. Every council tenant in England and Wales has the right to manage the housing services they receive. This is set out in Government guidance.

Each TMO has its own legal contract with the Council, known as the management agreement. This agreement outlines what services the TMO is responsible for and what services the council is responsible for on a particular estate and gives the Council powers to monitor TMOs and to take action when they're underperforming. TMOs usually operate as a co-operative or non-profit making community company. The Council provides TMOs with their own local offices and office equipment including IT. TMOs employ their own staff to provide housing management services.

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How many TMOs are there in Hackney?

There are 10 TMO estates in Hackney:

  • Arden
  • Clapton Park
  • Cranston
  • Downs
  • Lordship South
  • Suffolk
  • Tower
  • Wenlock Barn
  • Wick Village
  • Wyke

These TMOs range in size from 114 to over 1,477 homes. TMOs in Hackney have a role in managing services for 5,498 homes.

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What services are TMOs responsible for in Hackney?

TMOs can choose how much or how little responsibility they want to take over from the Council. The services managed by TMOs vary but in Hackney, TMO managed services include:

  • day-to-day repairs and maintenance
  • tenancy management
  • cleaning
  • grounds maintenance
  • rent collection and rent recovery

In Hackney, the Council, not the TMO, are responsible for major works such as repairing the structure of buildings or installing fire safety equipment. Programmes to replace kitchens, bathrooms, doors and windows also remain the responsibility of the Council.

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Was Grenfell Tower a TMO?

Kensington and Chelsea TMO (KCTMO) was responsible for the management of Grenfell Tower.

The KCTMO differs from TMOs in Hackney and the rest of the country because it runs the entire housing stock, some 9,000+ homes, for the local Council while providing a full range of housing services such as structure repairs and the installation of fire safety equipment. This is not the case in Hackney or for other TMOs nationally. In Hackney, the Council and not the TMO are responsible for major works such as repairing the structure of buildings or installing fire safety equipment. Programmes to replace kitchens, bathrooms, doors and windows also remain the responsibility of the Council.

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How are TMOs financed?

TMOs are paid an allowance by the Council which is dependent on the size of the TMO and the services it provides. The amount each one receives is determined Government guidance.

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Are TMOs in Hackney responsible for fire safety?

As with all Hackney estates, most aspects of fire safety remain the responsibility of the Council as the landlord.

Hackney Council is responsible for:

  • conducting fire risk assessments
  • maintaining fire safety equipment
  • maintaining the structure of buildings
  • maintenance of fire alarms and smoke detectors
  • maintaining fire safety signs
  • carrying out all repairs and improvements related to fire safety

The TMOs role in fire safety is to work with residents to help prevent fire safety hazards, such as blocked escape routes or other fire hazards. TMOs are also responsible for carrying our regular visual inspections of estates and reporting any concerns to the Council.

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What do I do if I am unhappy with the services provided by my TMO?

TMOs in Hackney are all subject to the Council's complaints procedure. If you have a complaint or concern about a TMO please register a complaint with the council.

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How are TMOs regulated in Hackney?

TMOs in Hackney are closely regulated by the Council. A dedicated team is responsible for the regulation and performance management of TMOs in Hackney and government guidance allows us to take action against TMOs when necessary, which can mean we take back certain services or close the TMO and bring all services on the estate back under our control.

We undertake annual reviews of each TMO and if they aren't meeting their management agreement, we'll agree an action plan with their board, which is monitored by our team. We can take formal action against the TMO if necessary. Our audit team audits TMO governance every four years and helps to monitor these audits and takes action if necessary.

The Council has a named liaison officer for each TMO who regularly attends board meetings and advises on governance and performance issues. The TMOs' performance is monitored by our TMO team and scrutinised by the tenancy and leasehold services management team.

For further information on TMOs in Hackney please email: get.involved@hackney.gov.uk or, if you live on one of our ten TMO estates, contact your local TMO Office.

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Report a problem

To report a fire safety issue on your estate, please email: housinginfo@hackney.gov.uk.

More information

Fire safety advice and information for tenants and residents is also available from the government:

Page updated: 20/09/2017 14:27:15