In a step which puts the area ahead of any other part of the country, almost all the official fire risk assessments for thousands of social housing properties in Hackney have now been put online for public scrutiny.
Hackney council promised to make the assessments public in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June and have been gradually released on the council website since then. They are accessible to the public via an extensive searchable database.
Almost all FRAs have been published, with 1,760 out of the promised 1,800 available on the council website so far. With this vast publication, Hackney has gone further in its fire safety investigation than any other housing provider in the country.
Mayor of Hackney, Phillip Glanville said the move was needed to increase transparency around housing issues in the borough. Writing for Inside Housing, Glanville said: “I’m proud that we’ve led the way with this commitment to transparency, so crucial to maintain trust with tenants and leaseholders and rebuild it where necessary after the tragedy in Kensington.”
Hackney’s move appears to have also prompted ministers to urge social landlords to publish and make public their FRAs. Glanville wrote: “Ministers have now backed calls for all social housing providers to publish FRAs – something we’ve been doing in my borough of Hackney in east London since mid-July, following the devastating Grenfell Tower fire.”
Glanville admits that the assessments are not perfect: “They might not assess cladding, they might not include detailed investigation, and crucially, they’re a snapshot of what was found at the time of inspection.”
The Mayor also previously apologised after providing incorrect fire safety information to residents on the day of Grenfell Tower, when he claimed: “All of our buildings have up-to-date FRAs.” However, after further investigation by the Hackney Citizen, which exposed one assessment to be “out of date” and another to have not been checked five years, the Mayor admitted that current fire safety systems were actually “not fit for purpose”.
As to what will happen after all the FRAs are published by the end of the year, a Hackney Council spokesperson said: “We’re working through recommendations raised by the FRAs and will follow the advice of the London Fire Brigade, the Grenfell Public Inquiry, and our independent fire safety advisor.”
FRAs are usually conducted every two years but were re-assessed in response to Grenfell as the incident prompted many local authority tenants and leaseholder to raise concerns about their own properties.
The assessments cover all social housing buildings in Hackney, identifying potential fire risks and looking particularly at safety and exit routes and whether there is anything inside buildings that could start, accelerate or spread a fire.