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Lessons of Grenfell and Cube could help cut waste bin blazes

The blaze at a block of student accommodation in Bolton in November is a reminder that there are more lessons to learn from Grenfell.


As 200 students escaped from the Cube housing block it emerged the government has not extended grant support to replace the high-pressure laminate cladding – the type used on the Bolton building – and will only fund the replacement of aluminium composite cladding used at Grenfell.

The safety framework recommendations laid down by Dame Judith Hackitt following the Grenfell tower block disaster was, quite rightly, centred on the safety of high-rise residential properties, but the lessons learned and her recommendations can be applied right across the whole housing sector.

She has publicly called for a culture change in the industry with contracts putting people before profits. It appears government Ministers are yet to embrace the spirit of Dame Hackitt’s guidance as the decision to block grant support to replace the cladding at Bolton is very much down to money.

Dame Hackitt’s also recommends that procurement procedures will be expected to specifically state that safety requirements must not be compromised for cost reductions and tenders should set out how the proposed solution will produce safe building outcomes.

This latest tower block fire will renew calls for a new regulatory framework, but a specific concern to us here at metroSTOR is the absence of suitable standards governing separation distances for waste storage within the Building Regulations or other statutory guidance.

To put this in context, the UK’s fire brigades are called out to 150,000 waste related fires with 20 fatalities and more than 1,000 people injured every year. One of the key risks is fires in waste and recycling bins, but despite the Fire Protection Association publishing guidance stating that bins should not be stored within 6m of dwellings unless secured within a fire-resistant structure, thousands of lives remain at risk.

This lack of clarity has left architects sometimes struggling with knowing which products to select, so metroSTOR, a provider of waste bin and recycling stores to more than 150 local authority and housing associations, has created a set of standards, developed in consultation with its clients and industry experts that help specifiers put safety first.

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