Fire Brigade ‘concerns’ over safety of 44-storey tower

The fire brigade has expressed concerns about the fire safety of the “unusual methods” of construction of the world’s tallest prefab, the black twin towers on George Street opposite East Croydon Station.

The twin towers at 101 George Street were almost finished a year ago. Today, all 456 flats are still empty

Inside Croydon revealed in February that delays with the sign-off of building regulations by Croydon Council had prevented 546 tenants from moving into their new homes in the prestigious, £180million development, named Ten Degrees by developers Greystar.

Built by Tide Construction using modules that were manufactured off-site, the 44- and 38-storey towers were completed in March 2020 in record time. But despite eager tenants paying their deposits and being given move-in dates in August and September 2020, today the blocks remain empty.

It was not until Monday this week that the build achieved practical completion, having met the demands of the building inspectors.

Last month, Greystar advised their customers that they might be able to move in to Ten Degrees from April.

There’s been less PR spin about Ten Degrees in the past few months

A report in Property Week today says that the London Fire Brigade has conducted a fire safety audit and had submitted comments to “the relevant bodies who make the final decision”.

The magazine quoted a LFB spokesperson as saying, “As we increasingly see boundaries pushed in terms of developments built using modern methods of construction, we have found that there is a need across the industry for more research on how this impacts building and fire safety.

“We are concerned that buildings are being built using more unusual methods without a complete understanding of their performance in fire, so we would encourage developers proposing new construction approaches to engage fire and rescue services at an early stage in the design process.”

Sources in the LFB in Croydon have also expressed some concern over the height of the Ten Degrees towers – at 450 feet tall – and some other high-rise blocks being built in the town centre.

Property Week quotes the Ten Degrees construction firm, Tide, as blaming the coronavirus pandemic and the scale of the buildings for the delays in the sign-off of what they call a “rigorous process”.

Tide said, “We have worked diligently and proactively with all stakeholders throughout this process and are pleased to report the building has been signed off by all authorities and has achieved PC.”


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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10 Responses to Fire Brigade ‘concerns’ over safety of 44-storey tower

  1. Stephen Tyler says:

    This may seem a silly question but bearing in mind the height of the building, are there fire tenders available that can reach to top in a worse case scenario?

    • Thomas Windsor says:

      After Grenfell we found out that the LFB did not have tall platforms so borrowed one from Surrey Fire Brigade, yes Surrey with all those tall buildings!

  2. j_emma says:

    Mordor Towers

  3. John Harvey says:

    Support your local fire brigade

    This news breaks on the day that government slackening of local control over conversion of retail to residential comes into force

  4. john p says:

    I find it incredible that something so ugly was allowed to be built in the first place. As if Croydon needed a dark and forboding monstrosity.

  5. Kaz says:

    I can’t even look at this building without thinking it resembles the Grenfell Tower

  6. miapawz says:

    No doubt another of Councillor Scott’s decisions? It looms over Croydon, it’s made of ugly materials and do wonder if it will have the same water problems the tower near the law courts has. What’s wrong with attractive buildings on a similar scale to the neighbouring ones?

  7. Lewis White says:

    The Surrey Fire and Rescue service’s 42metre (138ft) ‘aerial platform’ was unable to reach the top of the 70metre (230ft) Grenfell Tower block when it was alight.

    The US has an aerial platforms called the ‘112 Bronto Sky Lift’ which can reach a maximum height of 112metres (367ft).

    If the new Ten Degrees (44 floors) tower is 450 feet tall, (137 m) it seems that the Surrey platform, which was the best available to the London Fire Brigade (LFB) at the time of the Grenfell tragedy, would get just about a third of the way up this new Croydon tower.

    According to its website, the LFB has since equipped itself with 12 new x 32 metre high mobile escapes in 2020 — see https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/news/2020-news/september/new-aerial-ladders-to-hit-london-s-streets/ Yes, that is 32 m high.

    Assuming they could find an opening window to evacuate people from, these new escapes could reach almost one quarter of the way up the new 44 storey block.

    Another click on the LFB website states that
    “London Fire Brigade works with industry to support the development and building of safer homes, workplaces and places of entertainment, providing nearly 20,000 consultation responses to building and planning applications per year.” …………………. “The Brigade also regulates and enforces compliance with fire safety law to ensure buildings are managed and maintained as safely as possible……………………….. (and another excerpt)

    “Encouraging innovation and collaboration- Making London a centre of Excellence for Fire Safety

    London Fire Brigade works with the building industry, looking at innovative design for new buildings………………… balancing modern demands for high performance buildings with the need to maintain inherent safety provision for building users and emergency service personnel when needed.

    This level of technical expertise places London Fire Brigade at the centre of the future development of London. The Brigade wants to create opportunities for business to work with the Brigade during the earliest possible stages of design and planning to support smoother planning transition, because all applications will have safety considerations and innovative opportunities at their core. This will ensure the Brigade is able to influence and push the boundaries of technical fire safety and establish itself as a leading centre for technical fire safety expertise and advice.

    My comment ? Is the above website wording merely aspirational ?

    What has been the reality , in the post Grenfell Fire (14 June 2017) era , of the LFB involvement with developers and their architects and engineers, (or as they call it “”business”) on the design of the new Croydon building, which undoubtedly is a radically “innovative design”. This is the very period wehn the new Croydon blocks were being designed.

    With any building, the decisions about design of what is termed “means of escape from fire” is a fundamental decision. In the absence of James Bond- inspired designs capable of safely ejecting hundreds of people on zip lines, tubular slides like those in big swimming pools or other fantasy design idea, escape still comes down to staircases, and fire doors.

    Has the LFB been invoved all the way along in the new Croydon buildings, and will this building be any safer than the remaining 1950 and 60 tower blocks of Croydon Town centre?.

    Incidentally–but importantly– most of the tower blocks we know in Croydon were office blocks, so people were not living in them, were not sleeping in them at night, and were not cooking in individual kitchens, so the risks of fire must have been much, much lower.

  8. miapawz says:

    I hate to say it but the changes in building regs (i.e. none to speak of), thanks John major’s government and the lack of formal input demanded from fire brigades on these kind of developments means people are now far more at risk – look at what has happened post Grenfell – new build flats are not having so much cladding problems but are being found after inspection, to have no internal fire breaks, no fire doors, no insulation between flats. The Guardian are doing a good job reporting this but how do the builders get away with it? It appears in many cases that they declare themselves bankrupt after selling the development and the lease on. I feel so sorry for the leaseholders who buy them. Current Government appears to not be grasping the nettle either.

  9. No matter how involved the London Fire Brigade become, from thought of design all the way to completion and beyond, the powers that be will only listen to the bits that suit them. I cannot for the life of me, understand why the role of fire safety officer even exists. They do not have any real power, look at the amount of letters Gavin Barwell chose to ignore over Grenfell and although deliberate in choosing to ignore those warnings, he seems not to be held accountable for his part in the many lives lost and families destroyed.
    We are blessed with our firefighters, every call they attend has the potential to take their lives and be the last call they go to. Surely, we owe them the right that in a dangerous and not even particularly well paid job, the assurance of knowing that all has been done to best secure their safety, that profit has not won over the warnings they give.
    Many years of battle and hardship, of unions and strikes all lived through in the hope of securing decent working conditions. Even if not 100% safe, that the best has been done to try and achieve that target. It seems to me thAt we still have a long way to go.

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