High-Rise Homes

This page contains the latest information about fire safety in the high-rise homes at College Bank – last updated 8th September 2020.

As you may already know, we recently conducted some detailed Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) within College Bank. This is something that we carry out and update each year.  The number of empty homes in College Bank has allowed us to do some more intrusive investigations in each of the blocks this year and we have also carried out extensive external investigation works this time. These have included examining the insides of walls, something we were not able to do with flats that are occupied.

Our investigations have found that there is an issue with the external panels that might increase the potential for a fire to spread to other homes on the same level, rather than being contained as it should be. This is known as a problem with ‘compartmentation’ and appears to have been caused by inappropriate work carried out on the buildings in 1998, before the formation of RBH.

As ever, our residents’ safety and wellbeing is our number one priority. The results of our investigations indicate that this issue affects homes in all College Bank blocks and at all levels. We therefore want to make you aware of the steps we are taking to keep you safe as we address the fire safety issues in your building, as well as important changes to our evacuation procedures in the event of a fire.

From this week, we have taken the precaution of installing a 24-hour Waking Watch around all of the seven blocks in College Bank. This means we have employed a trained company to monitor buildings around the clock who can quickly alert residents, emergency services and RBH in the event of a fire. This is a precaution currently being undertaken by many building owners across the country – not just RBH.  It is temporary until we have more details of how the issues can be resolved.

The Waking Watch will be in place for an initial three months, patrolling your building while we conduct further investigations and develop options to improve fire safety. We will not be recharging the cost of this temporary service to College Bank residents.

You should all by now be familiar with our Stay Safe policy, which is published on the main RBH website. While the majority of this advice remains relevant and unchanged, this compartmentation issue has forced us to change our advice for anyone encountering a fire in a neighbouring home:

  • If there is a fire in another part of the building on the same floor as you, get out and call the fire service by dialing 999.  If you can, you should alert the neighbours on your floor on your way out, and exit the building using the stairs. You must not use the lift. Once outside, you should assemble at the designated meeting point for your block
  • If there is a fire on another floor within your building, it will normally be safest for you to stay in your flat, but you may be advised to leave if the fire is on a floor immediately below or above you
  • If you feel unsafe or your flat is affected by heat or smoke, then get out and call the fire service by dialing 999. If a member of the fire service or the Waking Watch ever tells you to leave the building, you should do so immediately

We know that while most people would be able to safely leave the building using the stairs, others may need help with this.  If anyone in your home has mobility or health issues, and would need extra help to leave the building in an emergency, please contact us as soon as possible.

We understand that this news may be very unsettling for residents. If you have any questions or concerns about fire safety in your building, please contact a member of our team by visiting our website, or by signing into the MyRBH portal. You can also call us on Freephone 0800 027 7769.

Click the above image to download a copy of our Fire Safety information leaflet.