Statement on Greetham Street accommodation cladding

Fiona Bell, Director of Estates and Campus Services at the University of Portsmouth:

“In light of the recent report by BBC Newsnight, on Friday 30 June, on the fire safety of high-rise buildings, which mentioned Unite Students’ Greetham Street property, we wish to assure you that the safety and security of our students and staff is our highest priority.

“None of the University-owned student accommodation buildings have aluminium cladding systems and therefore do not require testing under the government scheme. All our student halls have regular fire inspections and fire drills, electrical devices are routinely safety checked throughout all University buildings and we have successfully completed audibility testing of our fire alarm systems in all our halls of residence.

“We are also working with our partner accommodation providers, Unite Students and The Student Housing Company, and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service to provide assurance regarding the fire safety of the properties owned and operated by these providers in Portsmouth.

“In respect to Greetham Street, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has previously visited the building and we have been assured by Unite that the fire safety systems in place at Greetham Street are robust. The building was opened last September and was built in accordance with all regulations. Its design incorporates a comprehensive fire safety strategy with a range of measures, including a sprinkler system, fire alarms and a riser system to be used by the Fire Service. These are all supported by an emergency backup power supply and subject to regular periodic testing.

“As an extra precaution, last week Unite commenced a thorough inspection of all its high-rise buildings and will be submitting the materials used at Greetham Street for further independent testing under the government approved scheme. Additionally, Hampshire Fire Service will be carrying out a prearranged safety inspection of the property (on Monday 3 July) jointly with Unite and University of Portsmouth representatives. Representatives from Estates and Campus Services visited the property on Saturday to discuss any concerns with the students currently in residence. Alternative accommodation has been secured for any students wishing to be relocated while further testing is completed.

“Unite has also assured the University that the fire safety systems in place at James Watson, Trafalgar and Margaret Rule properties are robust. These properties were also part of the inspection carried out last week by Unite and the materials used at all three properties are being sent for further independent testing under the government approved scheme. These properties will also be part of the joint fire safety inspections taking place with the Hampshire Fire Service (on 3 and 4 July 2017).

“The Student Housing Company property at Catherine House is still under construction. However, its design also incorporates a comprehensive fire safety strategy including full addressable fire alarm system with remote monitoring 24/7, sprinkler system throughout the building and smoke ventilation systems in stairwells and communal lobbies. The building will be subject to rigorous inspections on completion.

“We will continue to provide updates on the situation as necessary.”

If you have any concerns or queries regarding fire safety in student accommodation, please contact the Student Housing team (023 9284 3214, student.housing@port.ac.uk).

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