CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Are some fire-resistant window frames more equal than others?

27 July, 2017 — By John Gulliver

The Chalcots estate

THE long trek of hundreds of families took place over the weekend as they returned to their homes on the Chalcots estate. They have been promised by the council that their homes are now no longer a fire risk following the installation of fire doors, changes made to the run of gas pipes, and other modifications, all sought by the London Fire Service.

But all may not be what it seems.

A strange paradox arose this week as workmen finished the completion of a massive project involving the replacement of mainly plastic window frames on communal floors – about 300 in all – with fire-resistant plaster-board sides and sills. The cost must have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Plastic frames would have been seen as highly flammable, and a source of deadly noxious fumes in a fire.

The question is: If communal window frames are being replaced, why aren’t those in individual flats on the list as well? Aren’t the homes of tenants equally important? But, I gather, council chiefs believe this could be done in the “near future” – and that, as many tenants may fear, could mean never.

In all, it would mean the replacement of nearly 1,000 window frames – a phenomenal cost by any reckoning.

Is this what is at the back of minds at the Town Hall?

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