Planned closure of St Helier House Residential Home following fire safety inspection.
St Helier House Residential Home, which is situated in Westmount Road overlooking People's Park, will be forced to close due to defects which have been discovered in its fire safety protection measures.
Although measures are being put in place by the Parish of St Helier in consultation with the Jersey Fire & Rescue Department to manage any risks to the Home's 44 residents in the short term, major structural works would be required to secure a long term future for the Home.
St Helier House was opened in 1963 and lacks many of the fire prevention features which are present in modern day multi-storey buildings. According to the Constable of St Helier, who held meetings with residents and their families and care staff yesterday, the Residential Home was already proving difficult to run due to the lack of en suite bathrooms, narrow corridors and lifts which will soon need to be replaced. The scope of the additional works required to ensure compliance with modern fire safety regulations mean that the Parish has no choice other than to implement the planned closure of the Home.
The main problem which has been identified is the cladding of the building, some of which is of a combustible nature. This has only come to light following inspections in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy on 14th June. There is also no sprinkler system in the Home, nor 'dry risers' which facilitate the fighting of a fire in high rise buildings. Some of the residents have mobility impairments which mean they would require more time to evacuate the building should a fire occur.
The Parish Constable has expressed his sympathy for the residents of the Home who will be affected by its closure. 'St Helier House has a great family atmosphere,' he said. 'The care provided by the Parish staff who work there is second to none and residents really enjoy themselves, especially at their shared meal times and social events. Our staff are extremely professional and committed, and I am very sorry that the closure of St Helier House means that discussions will have to be held with our staff on their future careers.'
The Parish also operates St Ewolds Residential Home and it is hoped that some residents and staff will be able to transfer there.
Immediate steps which the Parish has taken following consultation with the Jersey Fire & Rescue Department include:
- a trained fire warden/marshal will be on duty throughout the night to patrol the building and deal with any emergency;
- vehicle parking and bin storage in the vicinity of the building will be prevented;
- residents with greatest mobility impairment will be asked to move into rooms on lower floors; and
- no new residents will be taken into the Home and the Parish will work with residents' families and the Health & Social Services Department to find appropriate alternative accommodation for existing residents where necessary.
Chief Fire Officer Mark James has said: 'I am sorry both for the disruption to St Helier House's residents and families and for the apprehension this will cause to the team who care for them. Like the Constable and all the staff at St Helier House, however, the safety of the people living there is my priority, so we have asked for extra fire safety measures to be implemented.'
For more information please contact the Constable of St Helier, Simon Crowcroft, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on 07797 717933.