Fire service refuses to name 23 ‘high risk’ buildings in Nottinghamshire

The former Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service headquarters
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said it is unable to publicly name 23 buildings it has identified as ‘high risk’.

The service identified the buildings on its patch following the Grenfell Tower disaster, which killed 72 people in 2017.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service submitted a Freedom of Information  Act request to the service asking for the locations.

But the service has declined the request, saying the information being made public would “likely endanger the safety of people”.

The service said it believed there was a likelihood of the buildings being
targeted by persons with malicious intent, such as terrorists or arsonists, if the information was disclosed.

The buildings, many of the high-rise, are classified as ‘high-risk’ due to factors such as external flammable cladding, poor compartmentation, fire safety defects, or complexity of layout.

The fire service said in its response: “Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service believes that the release of the information to the public would likely endanger the safety of people, residents in the buildings concerned; there are concerns that the names and addresses of tall buildings in residential use could be used by those with malicious intent (such as terrorists or arsonists) to attack or otherwise compromise the safety of these buildings and their residents.

“If any information is released publicly without first informing affected residents, this way of disclosure may itself result in alarm and anxiety, thereby having an effect on those residents it states that it is trying best to protect.”

The service also gave examples of times when buildings had been targeted by terrorists or arsonists in its response.

It added that “on balance, the serious risk to public safety and endangerment of lives far outweighs any public interest in releasing information”.

“It is the view of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service that a full list of properties identified by name and location, that are known to be vulnerable to the effects of a fire, would be useful intelligence and therefore likely to be of assistance to a terrorist group, or similar, should they be contemplating an attack on a residential building,” the response said. 

The fire service said community events have been carried out at the 23 high-risk buildings to reassure residents and educate them on evacuation strategies.

Firefighters are also starting a programme of ‘dry riser’ testing on the buildings.

A dry riser is a network of pipes running inside tall buildings to enable the fire brigade to pump water to certain areas.

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