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Felmores homes to be amongst the 'safest in Essex' according to fire chief
8:20pm Wednesday 16th October 2013 in News
A FIRE chief has vowed homes on Pitsea’s Felmores estate will eventually be among the safest in Essex.
In just a year’s time the estate will be just as safe as many other estates in the county if Basildon Council heeds recommended measures, according to assistant chief fire officer Paul Hill.
The fire service’s report into the blaze at Bockingham Green, in Pitsea, in July, which ripped through several homes, concluded the homes are safe, but Basildon Council has been given a list of improvements to make.
These include continuing with a programme of recladding the timber- framed homes with concrete, installing sprinklers, and carrying out roof improvements – all of which the authority claims will be finished by September, 2014.
Mr Hill presented the report at a press conference organised by Basildon Council yesterday.
He said: “If the council is going to do everything it says it is going to do, then these houses will be among the safest in Essex.
“But all of that could be undone by residents themselves. If the occupants behave themselves then that will have more impact than anything the council will do.”
Statistically, Mr Hill said the homes in Felmores were also safer than other areas of the borough because no-one had died in a fire there.
The July blaze, caused by a chip pan, was the second serious fire at Bockingham Green in just three years, and left many residents questioning how safe their homes were.
While Mr Hill said he was satisfied with how safe the properties were, he conceded that had the cladding work been done, and sprinklers installed, the fire could have been prevented from spreading.
Currently just ten homes on the estate have had the cladding works done.
But the Tory administration’s deputy leader, and cabinet member for housing, Phil Turner, said he has no regrets over the way his administration handled the project, despite officers holding out for a grant that did not materialise.
It was initially mooted in March 2012, and the funding agreed in June this year, but little progress has been made until now.
Tonight the authority’s cabinet will approve plans to commit an extra £800,000 to the cladding project, bringing the total spend on the works to £6.2million.
Mr Hill would not be drawn on a safety rating of the homes, but admitted they would fail housing regulations if built in the same way now, owing to their 30-year lifespan and how regulations have been updated in that time.
He said: “So much has been done here which could be held up as an exemple as to how building stock can be maintained, even through old age.”
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