FIRE safety measures in high rise flats are being tightened by West Dunbartonshire Council in response to last year’s Grenfell Tower disaster.

Annual tenancy visits, free PAT testing, the right to request installation of additional sockets, and the replacement of spandrel panels and faulty appliances are some of the measures taken on by officers as they look to improve the safety of people living in Dumbarton’s three multi-storey properties.

At a meeting of the council’s housing and communities committee on Wednesday, May 9, housing operations manager Edward Thomas said he was “comfortable” with the “tolerable” level of risk assessed by an external fire safety specialist, but added: “There’s always more work to do.”

An action plan has been developed, which recommends replacing spandrel panels to reassure tenants and further reduce the level of risk.

Councillor Diane Docherty, the convener of the committee, said by putting these measures in place the council “is going above and beyond”.

She said: “Everything we do at the moment does adhere to Scottish fire safety regulations. What we are doing here is going above and beyond.”

However, Councillor David McBride said replacing the panels was a necessary action for “responsible politicians” to take.

Housing officers conceded there would be barriers to improving fire safety in certain flats, such as residents being unwilling to have inspectors enter their home.

Mr Thomas said: “We do have annual visits from housing officers but it’s not something we can say hand on heart is undertaken.

“We want it to be more of an expectation that this will happen.”

Cllr Docherty said: “You are going to have people who don’t want you accessing their house.

“We have had discussions about how we encourage tenants about how we can come in and check properties.”

Concerns were raised by Councillor John Mooney over reports the Grenfell fire in London was caused by a faulty fridge freezer.

He said: “If we found that, are we going to take that up with the tenants? Because I don’t think the tenant should be out of pocket because of the manufacturer.”

However, Richard Cairns, the council’s strategic director of environment and growth, warned against the council accepting responsibility for the cost of manufacturing faults.

He said: “We can also assume manufacturers are likely to try and find ways of avoiding incurring that cost. Any undertaking that we would be responsible to deal with it would not be wise.”

If a PAT test, which identifies external defects such as frayed cables, found an appliance to be faulty, the council would look for a resident to replace the product themselves in the first instance.

Mr Thomas said: “If they can afford to replace the appliance themselves then we would expect them to do so.

“If they can’t, for whatever reason, then through the welfare fund as a responsible landlord we are not going to leave it.”

The committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government for further funding to carry out the work.

Peter Barry, strategic lead of housing and employability, said: “One of the things I was encouraged by after Grenfell was the appetite of members to push this on.

“We need to be bold and confident about that because we are going in the right direction.”