Fire safety must be top priority at Desmond House in East Barnet

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has sought assurances from the Metropolitan Housing Association regarding fire safety at Desmond House in Cat Hill in East Barnet after its cladding failed combustibility tests.

Metropolitan are the landlords for Desmond House and Theresa met their Acting Chief Executive, Jenny Danson, in Parliament this week. Ms Danson confirmed that although the cladding at Desmond House has failed fire safety tests, it is not made of the aluminium composite material used on Grenfell Tower. The mineral wool insulation behind the cladding panels has passed and is fire safe. The cladding system has been in place for more than 20 years, and while it was certified by Building Control at the time it was installed, Metropolitan will be replacing the panels.

Ms Danson also set out the measures Metropolitan have taken to meet the additional fire safety requirements set out by the government for instances when cladding fails a combustibility test. These include installing additional temporary smoke detectors and alarms in communal areas and inspecting all communal and flat fire doors. They will continue to check all fire safety measures regularly. A fire marshal service will remain in place 24 hours a day until further notice to make sure communal areas are kept clear and safe.

Following the meeting, Theresa Villiers said, “It is vital that we do everything we can to ensure that people living in high rise buildings are kept safe from fire and that lessons are learned from the horrific Grenfell tragedy. I therefore welcome the briefing I have received from Metropolitan Housing regarding Desmond House in East Barnet.”

“It is of course very worrying that the cladding there has failed safety tests and I urged Metropolitan to press ahead with replacing it as soon as possible. In the meantime, it is important that they continue with additional fire safety measures, such as 24 hour fire wardens, to keep their tenants safe.”