‘Warning’: firefighters examine the bin after putting out the fire

A bin fire outside the entrance to a 16-storey tower block where cladding is being replaced should act as a “warning shot” to the council following complaints about recent safety blunders, residents have said.

Three towers at Lincoln Court in Woodberry Down are currently having their cladding updated after two Town Hall surveys carried out in the wake of last June’s Grenfell fire found it did not meet modern standards.

Building firm Wates has been contracted by the council to carry out the re-cladding work.

Last Sunday, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) put out a fire that had started in a Traid clothes recycling bin located just outside the main entrance to the middle tower.

A spokesperson told the Citizen that ten firefighters arrived at 11.37pm, and that the fire was “under control at 11.56pm”.

It is unclear how the blaze started as LFB has not carried out an in-depth investigation – as is the norm for bin fires.

Nobody was hurt, but residents have asked why the bin was outside the front entrance when the latest fire risk assessment (FRA) for the building says it should be kept “at least six metres away”.

In an email to the council seen by the Citizen, one said: “There have been numerous conversations between the residents, Wates and Hackney about fire safety during the re-cladding works.

“Given that the side exits [to the buildings] have been blocked off, and the front doors are now the principle means of escape, it is not acceptable that a potential fire hazard like the Traid clothes bin should have been left under the building, adjacent to this principle exit.”

The bin is no longer outside the front entrance.

Safety concerns: a makeshift bin barrier at Lincoln Court in 2017. Photograph: Garry Saunders

Although there is no suggestion that Wates staff moved the bin, Garry Saunders, a former health and safety manager at Hackney Council whose partner lives at Lincoln Court, has previously complained about external bins being used by contractors as makeshift barriers.

Saunders, who has been in frequent contact with the council about safety issues during the re-cladding works, said the bin fire should come as a “warning shot”.

“It should exercise people,” he said. “Up until now, I think those in charge have just seen us as a load of stroppy so-and-sos making petty points. Then something like this happens.

“The block’s FRA points out that bins should be kept away from the building, but Wates seems not to understand why this is important.

“The anniversary of Grenfell is coming up. I wonder what else they’ll lay on for us?”

A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: “We are aware of a small fire in a charity recycling unit on 13 May. The London Fire Brigade attended and extinguished the fire with no damage to the block and no effect to the ongoing work to the building.

“It is understood that the fire was started deliberately – the recycling unit had a fire proof flap and chute system.

“The most recent fire risk assessment referred to waste bins kept under the building – this unit did not sit under the building, but the charity has now removed it.

“The bins that the FRA refers to have also been moved to an outside area.”

A review of building regulations following the Grenfell fire, published today, says lax oversight led to a “race to the bottom”.

But Dame Judith Hackitt’s report falls short of recommending an outright ban on flammable cladding, an omission that Tottenham MP David Lammy called a “betrayal and a whitewash”.

Update: this article was amended at 10:18 on Friday 18 May 2018 to include a late response from a spokesperson for Hackney Council.

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