Fifteen fire safety failures have been listed on an enforcement notice to the landlord for Margate’s Arlington House.
Freshwater Property Management Limited, which hold the lease for the 18 floor (plus roof level) block through its company Metropolitan Property Realizations Limited, was served with the enforcement notice following an inspection by fire safety officer Barbara Campini in April.
The enforcement notices were highlighted in a First Tier Property Tribunal judgement issued this month in relation to service charges.
Kent Fire and Rescue Authority may bring forward a prosecution if the failures are not remedied by October 8.
The enforcement notice follows on from one issued to Trinity Estates – the company employed for day to day management at the block – last August.
An email sent from the Arlington House residents association to Trinity Estates – seen by The Isle of Thanet News – asks: “Why has Trinity failed to adjust fire doors, secure fire extinguishers, fire stop redundant hosereel pipes, affix S&F warning signs to electrical riser cupboards, repair and seal damaged surrounds to flat doors, display keep fire door closed signs, sign lifts not to be used in event of fire, ensure smoke ventilation windows in lift lobbies and fire escape stairwells can be opened and closed, keep on-site records of lightning conductor and electrical tests, PAT test equipment and keep on-site evidence and ensure that flammable materials are kept away from sources of ignition – all as part of normal site maintenance and professional property management?”
Faults in the alarm system have resulted in Kent Fire & Rescue Service attending the premises on 13 separate occasions between July 2018 and March 2019.
Simon Pengelly, chair of Arlington House Resident and Leaseholder Association, said: “A Notice issued by the fire brigade in August last year and a further notice issued in April this year include repairs that need to be carried out which are relatively minor but have not been carried out.
“I must stress that Arlington House is not another Grenfell tragedy waiting to happen – the building is very fire-resistant, we do not have any cladding and we have two fire escapes.
“However, we have already paid for works to be carried out to doors and service ducts in 2017 and are now expected to pay again. There is a maintenance contract for the fire alarm system yet faults remain despite repeated complaints to Trinity.”
The 15 failures
The responsible person has failed to comply with a duty to ensure the premises and any facilities, equipment and devices provided in respect of general fire precautions on the premises, are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
The fire alarm panel at the follow up audit was showing faults/disabled.
The smoke ventilation windows on each floor do not open easily, some are stuck due to poor maintenance.
The self-closing device fitted to a flat entrance door had been disabled at the time of the previous audit. It could not be confirmed however at the follow up audit if the self-closing device has been refitted.
A number of lift lobby, cross corridor, bin chute room and stairwell doors were identified in requiring maintenance/adjustment to ensure they close sufficiently tight.
A flat entrance door frame was found missing on floor 15 and letter boxes were missing from others.
The responsible person has failed to take adequate measures to reduce the spread of fire on the premises.
The old hose reel riser from the ground floor has been disconnected and the pipe is open on the ground floor and rises through all the floors, it should be capped off at the ground floor.
The electric service units for each flat are housed in a cupboard in the corridor and not all of the doors are fitted with locks although the doors have all been made up to FD30 standard. Checks should be made to ensure that the wall of the cupboard is fire resisting to prevent a fire breaking through into the flat.
The electric service unit cupboard door to one flat was found missing at the follow up audit.
The service risers have had asbestos removed and some of the fire resisting material between the floors may have been removed compromising the fire separation.
Not all service riser cupboard doors were found locked at the time of the follow up audit
The bin chute lobby doors and timber boarding above may not be the required 60 minutes fire resistance.
The 18th floor loft/service hatch cover is not adequately sealed.
Unable to confirm if all flat entrance doors are to the appropriate level of fire resistance.
Breaches were found in compartment walls outside the flats and in the ground floor electrical intake cupboard.
Inadequate fire precautions installed regarding the floor 19 tank room being an inner room that if an unnoticed fire occurred in the outer room an occupant could become trapped in the inner room.
The fire alarm and detection system cause and effect has not been provided due to a high percentage of unwanted fire signals and ongoing fault conditions resulting in Kent Fire & Rescue Service attending the premises on 13 separate occasions between July 2018 and March 2019.
Multiple wall hangings were found located on floor 11 common area walls and plants located outside a flat entrance, combustible materials.
The companies that own these types of buildings are often a company hiding behind a company hiding behind yet another company, if a major problem arises it comes down to passing the buck. Correcting all the failures listed will cost ££££s so the company will either carry out the work then increase the service charges to all the flats or cut and run and sell to another company.
Arlington lessees have already been charged for a good proportion of the required work but it has not been done properly. It is all failings of routine maintenance.
Now the management company wants to charge another £130,000 for putting it right.
Stern family ,famous slum landlords resident of Golders Green.
Lets hope that kent fire and rescue , inspect TDC housing just as robustly, EAST Kent Housing were found to have failed in respect of fire safety in a 2018 audit and the councils which own EKH were also criticised.
There are low rise TDC blocks which to my certain knowledge do not comply with the fire safety regulations 15 years after they were introduced. However very conveniently as part owners of EKH TDC cannot prosecute.
If I was a resident I would be looking for alternative accommodation as soon as possible ! Who wants to live in a potential death trap?
Richard – Arlington is not a potential death trap. There are many relatively minor issues that have been allowed to accumulate.
The whole point is that the management company has failed to carry out routine maintenance to a reasonable standard for many years and now the Fire Brigade has stepped in. The Fire Brigade issued a warning notice last year but the management company took no action so a further notice has been issued this year.
The lessees own their flats and have already paid for much of the work to be done – but it has not been done properly.
As a Fire Safety Engineer, I wouldn’t say that they were “relatively minor” issues. Any fire door fault can result in fire and smoke spread to public (egress) areas. Then, if the lobby smoke ventilation system is inoperable, the risks escalate!
I presume that there is a building wide occupant alarm system and if so, unwanted alarms will inure occupants resulting in either poor, or at worst, response when a real fire occurs.
If there isn’t an occupant alarm system initiated by smoke detectors, then the building design is sadly lacking in a meaningful fire safety system!