Childers Street Fire FAQs September Update

Published 07 September 2020

The Arches, Childers Street Fire Safety - Frequently Asked Questions

Following the recent fire at the Arches/Childers Street we recognise that many of you have questions about Fire Safety.  We have therefore compiled these FAQs which includes all questions raised so far together with answers and will keep this regularly updated.



Are the wooden balconies and cladding at The Arches, Childers Street dangerous and do Housing for Women have any plans to change them?

We have been considering the safety of the wooden balconies in line with official guidance which is an ongoing investigation.

We issued in a bulletin in April 2020 stating that we were considering a temporary make safe approach to involve the application of a fire-resistant coating to the timber parts of the balconies

Our technical advisors have advised us that this is not a viable solution and we have extended the review of the balconies to consider a permanent replacement solution for our 20-21 planned program of works.

Since the recent fire, and ongoing investigation, the review has now been extended to include a review of the cladding.

We will keep residents informed of progress.

What additional fire safety precautions has Housing for Women put in place while you complete the investigation?

A “Waking Watch” service is now in place. This means that there are staff on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is an additional measure to support an evacuation should this be required until further notice.

We have published on our website a fire safety guidance pamphlet for residents to explain the things you can do in your home and communal areas to manage fire safety risks
Is Housing for Women being investigated for Fire Safety breaches?

It is normal practice, following any major fire, for the Fire Service to undertake an investigation and this has begun.

The Fire Service Inspector has issued a notice to H4W in relation to the following items:

  • That fire action notices should be displayed in the common areas
  • The appointment of a competent person to review the Fire Risk Assessment
  • The Fire Risk Assessment should take account of the risk posed by external cladding

Item 1 is being addressed with the fixing of fire action notices to all schemes. Fire risk consultants have been appointed to facilitate item 2 and H4W is in the process of exploring our options for the removal of the cladding in question.

There have been no further developments.
How will Housing for Women inform the tenants at The Arches of future progress?

We will write to all tenants regularly advising of progress and when necessary display notices on the notice boards in the communal areas.

This Q&As sheet will also be available on our website and we will keep them updated with progress.

What fire safety procedures do you have in place?

All of Housing for Women’s blocks of properties undergo regular Fire Risk Assessments to ensure they meet fire safety standards. Any further recommended works identified through these are carried out as required.

In addition, all our blocks of properties have an evacuation strategy i.e. what tenants should do in the event of a fire. We are currently reviewing all of these and will ensure that they are clearly communicated to tenants.

The evacuation strategy for The Arches/Childers Street has changed to Evacuation. This means that if you discover a fire or hear a fire alarm sounding in any area of the building you are to evacuate immediately and call 999. In the event of an evacuation, you are to wait outside the Ron Hoskins Hall (Scout hall) across from the building.

Fire safety is everyone's responsibility. We have published a fire safety guidance pamphlet for residents to explain the things you can do in your home and communal areas to manage fire safety risks.

What action is taken when a fire risk assessment is undertaken, and recommendations are made?

Any recommendations as a result of a Fire Risk Assessment will provide the details of any work which needs to be completed with associated timescales. Housing for Women will then ensure that this work is completed in a timely manner.  This activity is regularly monitored by our Board.

How is Housing for Women ensuing that the communal areas are kept clear?

For the safety of all tenants, communal areas such as corridors, lifts, stairways, and entrance ways should be kept clear and free from any items or rubbish. Housing for Women complete regular inspections and will remove any bulky items which are illegally stored in communal areas and where there has been a breach of the tenancy agreement, further action may be taken. Housing for Women have written to residents regarding these matters and will shortly be issuing a fire safety information leaflet to support this.

It is important that all tenants take responsibility to ensure that communal areas are kept clear. Please report any such matters to your Neighbourhood Officer, Annie Cross on: 020 3794 4812 or 07483 017204.

We have published a fire safety guidance pamphlet for residents to explain the things you can do in your home and communal areas to manage fire safety risks.

How did the fire start?

We have not yet received formal confirmation of this from the London Fire Brigade.

However, an investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire with initial findings suggesting this was from the use of a barbecue on a balcony. 

Tenants have been reminded that barbecue grills must not be used on balconies and failure to comply will be treated as a breach of your tenancy agreement and further action will be taken.

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