Bolton student block blaze raises more cladding concerns

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Cladding on student accommodation, The Cube in Bolton, is a cause for “concern” following a major blaze on Friday (15 November), says Greater Manchester’s mayor

In a statement Urban Student Life (USL), which manages the property, revealed two students were treated for “minor injuries” on site, where about 100 residents fled The Cube in Bolton.

Despite claims the cladding was the same as Grenfell Tower, Mayor Andy Burnham has said it was not the same.

However, Burnham has said cladding is now a bigger issue “than we have so far faced up to”.

Burnham said: “[The Cube in Bolton] does not have the same ACM cladding [that was on Grenfell Tower] but nevertheless it does have a form of cladding that causes concern and raises issues that will have to be addressed.”

Tenants of The Cube in Bolton said they were confused as to whether there was actually a fire in the building, as one said, fire alarms go off “almost every day”.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), assistant chief fire officer Dave Keelan, said: “The fire… really did spread very quickly and that was evident to see on the footage that’s on social media.”

He revealed an investigation had been launched into the fire.

Following the fire at The Cube in Bolton, GMFRS wants to provide reassurance and advice to residents living in high rise buildings across Greater Manchester.

GMFRS said it inspected the building in 2017 following the fire at Grenfell Tower. It was established that the building did not have ACM cladding. There are two buildings in The Cube, Phase 1 is classified as a high rise building and Phase 2 (the building involved in the fire) is recorded as being under 18 metres and therefore not classified as a high rise building.

The Cube is fitted with a fire alarm system and operates a simultaneous evacuation strategy.

GMFRS subsequently requested the fire risk assessment be reviewed and the materials used in the external wall system identified and assessed. This assessment was shared with GMFRS and in 2018, subsequent work was undertaken to both buildings by the building owners.

Following the fire, the GMFRS investigation will consider the materials used within the external wall construction and what if any role these materials played in the development and spread of fire. This investigation will be complex and take some time.

Eva Crossan Jory, vice president of welfare for the National Union of Students (NUS), said it had been “calling for a number of improvements in fire-safety measures in student accommodation” across the UK.

“It shouldn’t take another fire to put the issue of building safety back on the agenda.

“Student safety must always be the first priority for accommodation providers and the government,” she said.

Responding to the student accommodation fire in Bolton, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called for a complete overhaul of UK fire safety and condemned cuts to fire and rescue services.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “My congratulations go to the crews on the ground who did amazing work in incredibly difficult circumstances. This terrible fire highlights the complete failure of the UK’s fire safety system.

“It’s deeply troubling to see fire spread rapidly up a building’s exterior again – a shocking indictment of the government’s shameful inaction after Grenfell. This is not how any building should react to a fire in the 21st century, let alone a building in which people live.

“We need to end the deregulation agenda and the disastrous cuts to our fire and rescue service. It’s time for a complete overhaul of UK fire safety before it’s too late.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Congrats to Students, Staff and emergency services. If they didn’t respond on time there may be use loss. Two student’s with minor injuries, it shows how fast they are in action. more measures have to be taken in Fire Safety.

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