Fire safety works will be carried out at Margate’s Invicta House towerblock

Invicta House

Fire safety works, including an alarm system upgrade, will be carried out at Invicta House in Margate from late June/early July.

Thanet council has published a tender for a contractor to undertake the improvement of fire safety measures within the block.

The deadline for contractors in May 13 with works due to start in June or early July. Tenders for work on Thanet’s other high rise blocks will be issued throughout the year.

Last year several deliberate fires were started at the block, with crews being called to the site three times in just one week in the April.

On the third call seven fire engines and the height vehicle attended the scene. The blaze was found on the stairwell between the second and third floors.

Fire crews at the scene Photo Gary Taylor

Some families were unable to leave the building because the fire blocked their exit.

Mum-of-two Claire Horn was in her third floor flat with her partner Reece Chess and their two young children when the fire broke.

Claire and Reece were in their flat with their two young children

They were advised to get in the furthest room away from the fire, shut all doors and put towels up against the doors to block smoke coming in.

Reece said: “This was the single most frightening experience of our lives – the thought that you can’t get your kids out because the fire blocked our only exit. It is unthinkable what could have happened and will surely stick with us for a long time.”

A 38-year-old man from Margate was arrested on suspicion of arson but was later released.

Photo Reece Chess

Following the incident East Kent Housing pledged to increase night security at the flats. EKH is responsible for local authority housing across the area.

Some £900,000 was earmarked for fire safety works at the isle six authority-owned blocks in Thanet council’s 2018/19 budget.

This followed detailed fire safety reports where a number of enhanced fire safety works were identified.

KFRS checks at Staner Court in Ramsgate in 2017

Revised risk assessments were carried out following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 and additional fire safety works were identified.

At the time electrician Suzanne Brimm also urged people to carry out regular checks on their electrical equipment.

She said: “These checks have the potential to save your life. White goods appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, cookers – any white goods appliances – have a capacity to hold charge even when they are not plugged in.

“Simply registering an appliance means you can be made aware of recalls and safety repairs.”

She also recommends testing electrics at least quarterly if not monthly, saying: “The RCD (residual current device) is really important to test as it is there to save your life. It is part of vital checks you should carry out in your home.”

Register appliances here

Some works began in 2018 but a further £810,000 was required to complete the recommendations. The budget papers stated that from this year another £100,000 would be required to continue with non-urgent fire safety recommendations.

Works programme

A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “We are working with East Kent Housing, the responsible persons for Invicta House, to ensure their planned fire safety improvement works meet the required standards.”

An East Kent Housing spokesperson said: “Levels of safety at Invicta House meet current fire regulations. A tender has been issued to carry out fire safety enhancement works at Invicta House.  This includes: new front entrance and communal doors, stairwell fire protection enhancements, and fire alarm system upgrade work.  This work is part of a broader programme of fire safety enhancements that will be delivered in a series of phases by East Kent Housing and Thanet District Council.

“The work within the tender has been informed by our fire safety assessments, joint work with the Kent Fire and Rescue Service and latest guidance issued by Government departments and agencies.

“The programme of fire safety enhancement work as agreed by Thanet District Council is included within its 2019/20 Housing Revenue Account budget.

“In addition to this we continue to undertake routine inspections of all blocks, provide advice and guidance to residents about fire safety and engage with resident groups about enhancements and improvements to their homes.

“We are in the process of developing the fire safety enhancement work to other high rise blocks owned by Thanet District Council and will be issuing these for tender over the course of the year. Residents are provided with a summary of the Fire Risk Assessment for their property on request.”

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