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Chalcots towers ‘not safe for residents’: Independent fire safety expert gives damning verdict

PUBLISHED: 16:50 27 July 2017 | UPDATED: 16:50 27 July 2017

Work has been done to seal fire doors in the Chalcots towers, but an independent expert says this is 'a sticking plaster on a wound'

Work has been done to seal fire doors in the Chalcots towers, but an independent expert says this is 'a sticking plaster on a wound'

Archant

The Chalcots towers are not safe for residents and building inspectors were wrong to sign off fire safety work, an independent expert has said.

Residents were forced to leave their homes in Taplow and other buildings on 23 June Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire Residents were forced to leave their homes in Taplow and other buildings on 23 June Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Chalcots towers are not safe for residents and building inspectors were wrong to sign off fire safety work, an independent expert has said.

“I would not stay there,” fire safety expert Arnold Tarling told the Ham&High when asked what advice he had for Chalcots residents. “Not if you paid me a million quid.”

Mr Tarling cast doubt on the independence of building control officers from Lambeth and Westminster councils, accusing them of being ‘blind’ to the continued safety defects.

The work done since the evacuation, he said, has been ‘a sticking plaster on a wound’.

“I don’t know what planet these people are on if they think this work is ready to be signed off,” he said.

He added that LFB officers were not building safety experts and were as such unable to provide an authoritative sign-off on safety works completed.

In a news report broadcast last night, Channel 5 asked Mr Tarling to assess conditions in Taplow tower. He found several grounds for concern and lambasted the decision to instruct residents to return to the estate.

One concern was that three samples of material in the walls proved to be flammable, meaning a fire could spread easily from one flat to its neighbours; another was that the central gas piping channel was not fire-stopped on each floor,

Residents of the Chalcots estate were ordered to leave their homes on 23 June amid concerns over fire safety. As emergency work ordered by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has been completed, residents have been told they can return in phases – but many remain wary, and unconvinced that the work signed off by building inspection officers is sufficient to prevent an inferno on the scale of Grenfell tower.

“There’s no way I would sign off something when you’ve got direct fire breaches in common parts, and therefore into other flats,” Mr Tarling told Channel 5. “It’s totally unsafe.” His opinion was corroborated by a second independent fire safety expert consulted by the channel.

Responding, Camden leader Cllr Georgia Gould said: “At every stage of this process, we’ve used expert, independent advice - the London Fire Brigade reviewed these works and building control inspectors from Westminster and Lambeth Councils have signed them off. They have agreed the building is safe for residents to return and that we can complete the further works we need to do with residents back home.”

A Council spokesman added that all work had been signed off by independent specialists who are members of the Institution of Fire Engineers.

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