A council is trying to reassure people living in a tower block over fire safety concerns.

Fire Risk Assessments gathered from Waltham Forest Council through Freedom of Information requests suggest there were fire safety concerns at a number of tower blocks in the borough.

Northwood Tower, along with the John Walsh and Fred Wigg towers, was identified as one of the top three most dangerous buildings in the borough.
The findings were publicised by Waltham Forest Echo and Your Local Guardian last month.

Waltham Forest Council released a statement, directed at residents living in the borough’s tallest block, Northwood Tower in Walthamstow, following what it calls “recent misleading media reports” and “articles in local newspapers [which] contain misunderstandings and inaccuracies”.

A spokesperson for Waltham Forest Council later clarified these criticisms were actually levelled at independent blogger Nick Tiratsoo, who writes regularly on issues affecting the borough.

The spokesperson stated the council took issue with “some assertions” made in Mr Tiratsoo’s article ‘LBWF and fire hazards in its housing stock: the appalling case of Northwood Tower in Walthamstow’, posted to his blog Waltham Forest Matters.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the council said: “We would like to reassure residents and the wider community on fire safety at Northwood Tower, Walthamstow, following recent misleading media reports.

“Northwood Tower is a safe and secure building that provides a decent home for its residents. Several recent articles in local newspapers contain misunderstandings and inaccuracies that will cause unnecessary concern for residents, and we must put that right.”

When asked if he felt the council’s concerns about his blog post were legitimate, Mr Tiratsoo stated he did not.

He said: “I don’t understand why they’re suddenly saying that, [the article] is very careful in what it says, I stand by what I’ve said absolutely.

“Either [the company carrying out the Fire Risk Assessments] got it wrong, or the council didn’t do anything.

“There are very serious errors that remain unaddressed, for those two and a half years [between assessments] nothing was done. They’ve been caught with their pants down.”

Mr Tiratsoo said he has not been directly contacted by the council to be made aware of any factual errors in his blog, despite the fact he states he is happy to make any necessary corrections at the top of his web page.

The Waltham Forest Council spokesperson explained Fire Risk Assessments are carried out annually, and 57 of 65 faults identified in Northwood Tower’s last inspection have since been completed.

They indicated none of the outstanding actions posed a “critical risk” to the safety of residents.

They added that, according to statutory requirements, past assessments have been limited to visual inspections. Now the council is moving towards a system that involves more in-depth analysis.

This year’s batch of Fire Risk Assessments are currently being carried out, and Northwood Tower’s individual assessment is due to be completed this month.

65 faults were identified, according to the Northwood Tower Fire Risk Assessment from 2015, which asks a series of yes or no questions such as “Do flat fire doors provide adequate fire resistance?”

A council spokesperson said a ‘no’ response does not always mean a failure to comply, but can sometimes mean that area of interest was not examined.

Through comparing 2015 and 2018 Fire Risk Assessments for the tower, Mr Tiratsoo found the remaining six faults included electrical installations that weren’t in good visible condition, there was no system for regular collection and disposal of rubbish and combustible waste and that fire doors did not provide adequate resistance.