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High rise buildings in South Tyneside

The safety of all our residents is our number one priority.

To mitigate the risk of fire we have effective fire risk assessment, certificate fire compartmentation, fire and smoke detection systems with robust policies and procedures, support by effective working partnerships with Tyne and Wear Fire Rescue Service. 

Please be assured that South Tyneside Homes has robust emergency response procedures in place and that events such as that at Grenfell Tower are very rare.

If any customers have any concerns and would like advice please contact our Customer Service Centre on 0300 123 6633 or e-mail connect2@southtynesidehomes.org.uk.

Do any of the high rise buildings have aluminium composite material (ACM) panels as exterior cladding?

Our high rise buildings do not have aluminium composite panels. The cladding used on high rise buildings in South Tyneside is not the same as that used on Grenfell Tower.

How many high rise buildings do we have in South Tyneside?

There are four high rise buildings in South Tyneside:

  • Ellen Court, Jarrow (12 storey building)
  • Monastery Court, Jarrow (12 storey building)
  • Wilkinson Court, Jarrow (12 storey building)
  • Durham Court, Hebburn (18 storey building)

We also have Westmorland Court in Hebburn which has been decommissioned.

When was the most recent fire risk assessments completed for each high rise building?

Our latest fire risk assessments were carried out:

  • Durham Court - January 2019
  • Ellen Court  - January 2019
  • Wilkinson Court - January 2019
  • Monastery Court  - January 2019

What safety measures are in place for high rise buildings in South Tyneside?

All our high rise buildings have an annual fire risk assessment.

Our teams visit blocks daily to complete the fire alarm panel checks, door closure checks and also to check they are clear of rubbish and nothing is obstructing the safe means of escape.

We have Neighbourhood Officers visiting tenants and they can refer issues and problems if they need to.

Our blocks have hard-wired smoke alarms (wired directly to the mains supply) in individual flats.

Dry risers and emergency lighting systems are routinely serviced. A dry riser is normally an empty pipe that can be externally connected to a pressurised water source by firefighters.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service carries out random unannounced inspections of all our blocks.

Why does South Tyneside Homes have a stay put policy and is this going to be reviewed?

We operate a 'Stay Put' policy for tenants in line with national guidance. We believe this is the safest way to respond to a fire, if one occurs.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service supports this approach for our high rise buildings and we are reaffirming this to residents at public meetings. 

If anything comes out of the Grenfell Tower block fire investigation that recommends we review this policy, we will, working with tenants and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service. It is really important that tenants follow the current policy. 

We are placing posters reminding everyone of the Stay Put policy in all blocks.

High-rise sprinkler systems

Your home and the communal areas where you reside are protected with a sprinkler system.

There are many misconceptions regarding sprinkler heads and sprinkler systems.

One misconception is that the sprinkler head will activate if there is any smoke, the only way the sprinkler head will operate is if the bulb within the head reaches a temperature of usually 74˚C.

Another misconception is that all sprinkler heads will operate if one head activates this is also not true, only the sprinkler heads in close proximity of the heat source will activate.

Here are some ways of ensuring the sprinkler system is maintained and kept in full working order and that no malfunctions occur in the case of a fire situation:

  • Do not paint a sprinkler head or cover the plate - This would prevent the sprinkler head operating at the set temperature and possibly not work at all
  • Do not paint any exposed pipework with oil based paint - Only water based paint should be used when painting pipework as this does not react with the material
  • Do not hang anything from exposed pipework - This would put stress on the pipework and possibly break it
  • Do not obstruct a sprinkler head with any object - The sprinklers have been positioned at precise locations to protect all areas of the dwelling
  • Do not use paint stripping apparatus in close proximity of the sprinkler head - The heat could activate the sprinkler head into operating
  • Do not attempt to remove the sprinkler head - This would activate the system and water will flow immediately

How will tenants be kept updated?

  • We have visited the homes of all tenants in high rise buildings and are in the process of revisiting tenants who were unavailable
  • We are also running briefing sessions for all tenants in high rise buildings and have sent letters to all tenants to invite them
  • We are making sure our teams are out and about in our neighbourhoods and can answer your questions
  • We are reminding tenants and residents about fire safety

Further information

If you are worried you can contact you local housing officer or Neighbourhood officer, or you can call us.

For safety information please visit Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service: Fire safety in high rise buildings.

For more advice speak to your Area Manager (contact the South Tyneside Homes Customer Service Centre on 0300 1236633).