Bristol to reclad 38 tower blocks in EPS cladding fire scare

Aaron Morby 1 year ago

Bristol City Council has committed to replace expanded polystyrene cladding on more than half the city’s 64 council-owned tower blocks.

Flammable cladding at Eccleston House contributed to the spread of a deliberately started fire at a tower block in Barton Hill, the city council has confirmed
Flammable cladding at Eccleston House contributed to the spread of a deliberately started fire at a tower block in Barton Hill, the city council has confirmed

It is also introducing immediate waking watches at the 38 at risk blocks of flats after the local fire brigade warned that EPS cladding contributed to the spread of fire a tower block blaze in the city last month that injured eight.

The council is the first to commit to taking radical action over EPS cladding. The move could prompt others to follow their lead, said experts.

Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes, said that round-the-clock fire wardens were being introduced to the majority of Bristol’s high-rise tower blocks as a response to fire safety information from the Fire Service and extensive surveys.

He said that the council would now be replacing the EPS cladding on all of its EPS clad buildings, with a more sustainable rock-based cladding being applied instead.

“The programme of new measures and the works that will take place in coming months should reassure our residents that we are putting wellbeing first.

“I’ve also written to national government to request that they step up their level of support for local authorities across the UK, and not just in Bristol, as similar fire safety patrols may need to be implemented in other parts of the UK too.”

Arnold Tarling, fire safety expert and fellow of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: “We should be concerned about EPS. We should have been dealing with it long ago.

“There was a Shepherds Courts fire in West London in the summer of 2016 was a polystyrene-based fire.

“In September 2019 London Boroughs asked the Government about whether they would be testing expanded polystyrene panels on buildings and external walls and the G0vernment refused to test them.”

He added that while the use of the panels above 11m is now banned, the problem would be more wide scale because the Government had not asked owners to remove EPS cladding as part of its post-Grenfell building safety crackdown.

He added: “This will be a countrywide problem. It will not just be a problem for councils, but also for housing associations and private blocks.”

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