Barking Riverside fire - Sunday 9 June 2019
Independent Review of the Samuel Garside House Fire, LB Barking & Dagenham
In June 2019 a serious fire occurred at Samuel Garside House in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. The fire started on a Sunday afternoon and spread very quickly. The block was so badly damaged that a number of the flats were uninhabitable. No one died but many residents were traumatised by the experience and had to live in temporary accommodation for many months. The building was a mix of private rented and housing association owned flats.
The emergency services responded immediately and the council was involved within hours and has continued to play a significant role since. This fire occurred a few days short of the second anniversary of the Grenfell disaster and raised concerns which echoed some of those emerging from the Grenfell Enquiry, but also others relating to lower rise buildings and the role that local authorities could and should play in relation to such private developments.
The Council has decided to commission an independent review to both provide a clear account of what happened before, during and after the fire and to draw out what lessons can be learned in both a local and a wider context.
It is not being asked to consider the specific cause of the fire, neither will it be a technical assessment of building safety regulations as these matters are properly being considered elsewhere. However, it will consider questions about the emerging regulatory regime which draw on the experience in Barking and Dagenham. It will also propose recommendations for action or change at appropriate levels of government.
In summary, the purpose of the review is to:
- Tell the story of the key events associated with the fire, focusing in particular on the response and aftermath.
- Establish the main lessons learned; identifying what went well and where things fell short of what the people affected should have been able to expect.
- Propose recommendations for action or change, based on our local experience and lessons learned (in particular relating to the emergency response and aftermath, but also in relation to the questions raised in respect of building regulations and fire safety).
Sir Steve Bullock has been appointed to provide strategic oversight of the review which will be undertaken by Cllr Diarmaid Ward. Sir Steve Bullock is the Chair of the Housing & Finance Institute and also the Sutton Housing Partnership, having previously served as the Executive Housing Lead for London Councils. Diarmaid Ward is the Executive Member for Housing and Development at the London Borough of Islington. He is undertaking this review in a personal capacity. They will seek to engage with key individuals affected by or involved in the aftermath of the fire, starting with residents themselves, but will also include statutory agencies, the owners and managers of the building and the council itself.
There have been fires in the last year in a number of other similar buildings elsewhere in the country which may also have relevant lessons and the review will seek to gather information from the relevant local authorities.
In the coming weeks, more information will be sent to affected residents about how to give your views to the review team. This will include a survey and drop-in sessions in the borough.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System
When residents raised concerns around the safety of the blocks at Samuel Garside, we paid for an expert independent inspector to carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System assessment (HHSRS).
The HHSRS assesses a building’s safety by classifying hazards and risks as urgent (Category 1) or less serious (Category 2).
We received the final version of the report on Friday, 18 October.
Please see a summary of the HHSRS report (PDF, 200KB)
How many homes were affected by the fire?
79 flats in total were affected, as the electricity supply had to be switched off in some nearby homes. 10 flats were completely destroyed and 43 had varying levels of damage caused by the fire.
Who owns the block?
This is not a council block, it is owned by Adriatic Land who are the landlord. Residential Management Group (RMG) act on behalf of Adriatic Land as the managing agent for the block. Some flats have private tenants and some have Southern Housing Association tenants. There were no council tenants in the building.
Who built the block?
The block was built six years ago by Bellway Homes.
Who signed off building control on the block?
Bellway Homes did not use the council's building control service and instead appointed an Approved Inspector (NHBC) to inspect the block to confirm it met with building regulations.