FAQs: Aberdeen City Council multi-storey properties

The following Frequently Asked Questions and responses have been prepared to provide collated information on Aberdeen City Council's multi-storey properties:

How many ACC multi-storeys have over-cladding?

Aberdeen City Council has 59 multi storey blocks of flats, with over-cladding on 18 of them.

The over-cladding work has been carried out by the contracts Lovell, Graham Construction, and Keepmoat. There are seven multi-storey buildings currently undergoing over-cladding work.

Is there a difference in cladding here compared to London?

The materials used in the over-cladding of ACC multi-storey buildings are not the same as what has been reported to have been used at Grenfell Tower. The materials used in ACC multi-storey buildings are resistant to the spread of fire.

ACC technical officers in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have been checking the specification of materials used in Aberdeen blocks and can confirm that the materials and design used fully comply with all relevant building regulations and standards.

All of the ACC over-cladding is made of the following materials:

  1. Insulation made of stone fibres which is non-flammable and is hard-up against the concrete wall. It is 125mm thick and is a rigid material;
  2. Solid façade sheets made of a fibreglass reinforced polymer which is resistant to the spread of fire and hinders smoke development;
  3. Cavity barriers at each party floor and party wall, and around each window. These barriers enclose any fire so as to prevent the risk of it spreading from flat to flat, and prevent it spreading within the over-cladding. These cavity barriers are made of both the previously-mentioned stone fibre insulation (around the windows and at the party walls) and also intumescent seals and steel at the party floors. The intumescent steel fire stop which, when it heats up, expands to block any fire.

The diagram at the foot of this page may be helpful to you to show the cladding materials used in our multi-storeys.

What fire safety measures are in place in multi-storey properties?

All Aberdeen City Council multi-storey blocks benefit from a number of systems including fire alarms and smoke detectors that are linked to a fire alarm panel, emergency lighting in all communal landings, and exit staircases. Each multi-storey block is also equipped with a dry riser with an outlet on each floor.

Fire alarm panels and other fire safety equipment are checked on a regular basis. In addition, SFRS will undertake a fire safety inspection of each multi-storey blocks every quarter.

ACC owns a total of 3,879 flats within the multi storey blocks and all, apart from 47, have been fitted with mains powered smoke detectors. These 47 have battery-operated alarms which are due to be replaced by mains powered.

These smoke detectors have a life of 10 years and, at the time of installation, residents are given a leaflet stipulating the maintenance regime, i.e. regularly check that the green mains light is lit and to test the alarm weekly, by depressing the test button. ACC carries out checks on the smoke detectors when a property becomes void. The smoke detectors are replaced as part of a rolling programme.

In ACC’s capital programme for 2016/2017 and 2017/2018, we are upgrading mains powered systems in 19 multi storeys at a cost of more than £500,000.

When the multi storey buildings were constructed, there was no requirement to have fire suppression systems so the 59 multi-storeys do not have them. We will take on board any findings from the fire service investigation in London and review as necessary.

ACC, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) colleagues and the Scottish Government will continue to work closely throughout the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire, and we shall continue to review multi-storey block fire safety on an ongoing basis.

Can you give me information on general safety in a fire in a multi storey?

You can be reassured both ACC and SFRS takes fire safety very seriously. SFRS advice for householders in multi-storey buildings to have a fire escape plan for the whole household looking at how to get out quickly at night, who is going to get the children, where the front door keys are located and an identified ‘safe room’ in case you can’t escape.

SFRS advice if a fire occurs in your own flat is to shout to alert the household and get out quickly by crawling if there’s smoke, close doors behind you to prevent smoke and fire spread, use the stairs to exit the building and call the Fire Service on 999.

If the fire is elsewhere in the building ie not in your flat, SFRS advice is to call the Fire and Rescue Service on 999 to tell them of the fire if you know it, stay in your flat with the front door closed, pack a towel or sheet around the bottom of your front door to prevent smoke from getting in, go to an open window and wait for the fire service. Only leave the safety of your flat if you’re affected by heat or smoke, or if you’re told to leave by firefighters or the Police.

If you are trapped, you should go to your ‘safe room’ and gather everyone there, call the Fire Service on 999 and protect the safe room by packing bedding or towels, open the window to breathe and attract attention by waving a sheet.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service leaflet available from http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/media/332080/multi_storey_fire_safety.pdf is a good information resource.

What are the next steps?

ACC, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) colleagues and the Scottish Government will continue to work closely throughout the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire, and we shall continue to review multi-storey block fire safety on an ongoing basis.

Anyone wanting a free Fire Service home fire safety visit can phone 0800 0731 999.

ACC is planning a series of drop-in meetings, where residents and tenants will be able to come and speak to ACC and fire service staff. Once the dates and venues have been confirmed the information will be posted on our website, social media pages and in every multi-storey block.