Fire review of UEA buildings

UEA will carry out a precautionary review of all campus buildings, following national concern about university accommodation fire safety.

80 people are believed to have died in a fire at Grenfell Tower, in Kensington, two weeks ago. Prime Minister Theresa May said “no stone will be left unturned” in a public inquiry into the fire.

Students have been assured UEA is “fully confident” in its fire prevention measures. A university spokesperson further described the investigation as precautionary and “not because we believe anyone is at risk.”

Following investigations at other UK universities, the university is undertaking a full buildings review to ensure the safety of students, staff and visitors.

Some of the newer campus accommodation, Hickling, Barton, and Crome Court, are cladded.

A spokesperson for UEA said these buildings each have “small areas of composite cladding panels.” However, they stressed that these are not the same type as the panels on Grenfell Tower.

Concern was raised after it was revealed halls at Nottingham Trent, Bournemouth, Newcastle, and Edinburgh Napier universities have similar materials to that of Grenfell Tower.

The University of Essex is also investigating material used on one of its buildings but say the material is different to that at Grenfell.

NUS Vice President for Welfare Shelly Asquith told BuzzFeed News the union demanded the government “takes immediate action to ensure all halls are included in fire safety checks” following student fears.

She said: “This needs to happen urgently to reassure students due to enrol in September. We also call on the government to reverse cuts to the fire service which so many of our members rely on.”

A spokesperson for UEA assured students and staff that the campus has “robust fire safety systems and procedures” to ensure containment and a safe evacuation in the event of a fire.

They added safety measures include “multiple escape routes, fire evacuation lifts, centrally-linked fire alarm systems and Building Management System (BMS) monitoring” in addition to 24 hour campus security.

At the time of publication, cladding from 137 high rise buildings has failed safety tests in 41 local authority areas, including a housing block in Norwich.


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August 2022
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