Study of London high rise fire risk assessments
In early 2022, we began an ongoing project to use the Freedom of Information Act legislation to request fire safety data from 32 London borough councils. The purpose of this project is to collate fire risk assessment ratings for local authority owned and managed high rise blocks, enabling us to share fire safety information with tenants, to keep an overview of how boroughs are performing on high rise fire safety and to work towards our overall aims of ensuring that tenants are safer in tower blocks.
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment is an inspection of a building in order to review its risk, identify any hazards, and to provide recommendations and action to reduce risks.
What is the Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act (2000) provides public access to information held by public authorities. Members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities including government departments, local authorities. However the Act does not cover every organisation that receives public money.
We submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to 32 London boroughs requesting a list of names and addresses of all high rise social housing blocks that they own and manage and the latest fire risk assessments for those blocks.
To date, sixteen boroughs have responded with the full information requested and we have so far logged over 2,300 fire risk assessment details onto spreadsheet databases categorised according to local authority.
Wherever possible, we have sought to capture comprehensive information about each block including:
Block name, full street address and postcode
Fire risk assessment rating level
Date of fire risk assessment inspection
Name of assessor
Number of storeys
Number of flats
In the instances where councils have refused our request, we have re-submitted our questions using a different format. For example, we have instead simply requested block names and addresses. We will log these details and then request a sample of fire risk assessments for those boroughs.
In the cases where the borough does not own or manage any high rise stock, we have made enquiries as to whether these have been transferred to an HMO or Housing Association and have begun writing to those organisations to request the data.
This is a moving and ongoing project. We continue to populate our database spreadsheets with updated fire risk assessment details as further information comes in via response to our Freedom of Information requests and analyse the data to draw out patterns and themes, as well as address particular concerns that may arise.
Our database spreadsheets are publicly available and we invite anyone who is interested, particularly; tenants, community groups and campaigns to contact us to receive any information that they may find useful. Likewise, as the project progresses, we will be continuing to use the data in our tenant outreach work, supporting resident empowerment by providing information that allows tenants and community groups to independently follow up, take action and hold their landlords to account on issues of fire safety.