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Update on fire safety – 25 August 2017

25 August 2017

Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, we have been working closely with one of the UK’s leading fire safety consultancies and experts from the local fire and rescue services in London, Leeds, Bristol and Portsmouth. Based on their advice and in line with guidance from the Government’s panel of experts, we have decided to close our Sky Plaza property in Leeds, pending the replacement of its exterior cladding. We have contacted all students due to stay at Sky Plaza and offered help with finding alternative accommodation. The vast majority have now found alternative accommodation. 

Our properties at Concept Place in Leeds, Olympic Way and St Pancras Way in London, Waverley House in Bristol and Greetham Street in Portsmouth are safe for occupation from the start of the 2017-2018 academic year.

We can confirm that the remaining 126 properties in our portfolio do not have any ACM cladding.

Further information

The safety of our buildings is a matter of critical importance to Unite Students and the students who live with us. In every case, the design of our buildings incorporates a comprehensive fire strategy. 

  • All of Unite’s properties have been designed to meet stringent fire safety requirements and have the necessary life safety systems installed that match the individual requirements of each building. This may include but will not be limited to alarm systems, sprinklers, dry*/wet risers and automatic smoke ventilation.
    *Dry risers provide an internal water supply for firefighting.
  • We have fully addressable L (Life) type fire alarm systems in all of our properties which means that all areas of the premises are covered with detection, including bedrooms, kitchens, plant rooms and communal areas. This alarm is also connected to an internal Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) that is manned 24/7 and 365 days of the year.   We routinely work closely with experts from local fire services to make sure these are effective. 
  • All of our buildings are designed to ensure compartmentation in the event of an incident, for example fire doors with self-closers are fitted as standard. We work closely with members of the Association for Specialist Fire Protection to ensure the fire strategy of our buildings is not compromised through a series of regular checks as part of our Fire Assessment Regime. 
  • All our systems and fire safety procedures are tested rigorously and regularly. 
  • In addition to the physical fire safety measures Unite has in place, its staff are trained on their duties to undertake with regards to proactive and reactive fire safety management, which includes building inspections, routine fire alarm testing, evacuations and inductions for residents. In the event of smoke or heat being detected, Unite’s systems assume that a fire situation is present and all residents are prompted to evacuate.
  • All of Unite’s life systems are robustly tested in line with British Standards guidelines by competent staff and accredited third parties to ensure that they are operational at all times.  Unite conducts routine inspections in line with statutory requirements on all plant and equipment including electrical and gas systems using accredited personal and third parties.