SOUTH YORKSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service (SYFRS) will deploy a fire safety team to inspect all of the region’s high rise residential tower blocks by the end of 2021.

The Star reported on the plans by SYFRS to inspect ‘all high-rise residential tower blocks’ across South Yorkshire by the end of next year, with the fire safety team – funded by a government grant – to inspect all buildings 18m or taller or with six or more storeys ‘as part of a programme launched in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire’. The inspections will assess fire safety measures in each block.

SYFRS’ area manager and head of prevention and protection Simon Dunker commented: ‘Our aim, between now and the end of next year, is to physically inspect every high rise residential building in South Yorkshire. We hope this work will provide reassurance to residents we are continuing to work to effect changes identified by the Grenfell inquiry and that resident safety remains our priority. We will work with building owners and managers to ensure any necessary work is carried out.’

Last December, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) sent letters to residents and owners of 13 West Yorkshire high rise apartment blocks – in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield - with residents warned they ‘might be forced to leave’ if combustible cladding is not removed and owners asked about fire safety plans.

WYFRS stated that following Grenfell, it had identified buildings with ‘ongoing issues related’ to combustible cladding and insulation, and that ‘interim measures’ had been introduced to address fire safety concerns. However, after the Grenfell inquiry’s first phase report and the fire at the Cube student accommodation block in Bolton last November, it was ‘clear that the fire risk presented by flammable cladding can only be removed if the cladding itself is completely removed’.

WYFRS gave all building owners until 10 January to respond, telling residents ‘no action will take place over the Christmas period’. It hoped it would ‘not be necessary’ to remove them and that a ‘swift resolution’ could be agreed, and assured residents that plans are in place in the ‘unlikely event of a fire’ at any of the blocks.