A fire risk assessment was due to be carried out at a council housing block that was recently damaged by a blaze.

Firs House, in Acacia Road, Wood Green, was due to undergo a risk assessment looking at whether fire breaks needed to be installed in its roof, housing chiefs have revealed.

A blaze lasting several hours on April 29 “completely destroyed” one maisonette spread over the second and third floor of Firs House, according to the fire brigade. Haringey Council said 41 residents had to be moved out of the block after the fire.

At a meeting of Haringey Council’s scrutiny committee on Tuesday (May 26), councillors quizzed housing chiefs on the Firs House blaze and the safety of other council housing blocks in the borough.

They raised concerns over whether blocks had effective “compartmentalisation” – a safety feature designed to stop the spread of fire through buildings.

Scrutiny committee chair Cllr Lucia das Neves (Labour, Woodside) said she had concerns that the roof of Firs House was “a later addition that had not been compartmentalised”.

Cabinet member for housing and estate renewal Cllr Emine Ibrahim said the pitched roof of Firs House was added in 2002, and she had been told by Homes for Haringey – the council’s housing arm – it was “part of a programme of looking into fire risk across the board and was due to be investigated”.

Homes for Haringey managing director Sean McLaughlin told the committee the cause of the fire was being investigated by emergency services and would be shared with the council as soon as possible.

He added: “As far as dwellings are concerned, the fire was contained within one dwelling. So, from that point of view, the building did do its job.

“Generally speaking, we are aware of the potential fire risk where a fire can travel between roof spaces. Like every other landlord, we are conducting a programme of fire risk assessments.

“The particular fire risk assessment we need in this instance is a very intrusive one. We had a programme that was due to complete at the end of this calendar year, where we were trying to identify roof spaces where fire breaks needed to be installed. Following that, there will be a programme of installing those fire breaks.

“That programme has been delayed – that is partly to do with the ability to recruit people who are qualified and competent to do the assessment, but mainly because they are so intrusive that even without the (coronavirus) lockdown, you are talking about, in many cases, going in up through people’s ceilings to see what is up there.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily the case at Firs House, but it is part of the same programme and could be delayed by those issues.

“We will have to assess, as we come out of lockdown, how rapidly we can get back on track with that, and that will depend on the ability to recruit competent people to carry out those assessments.”

Later in the meeting, Cllr Pippa Connor (Liberal Democrat, Muswell Hill) asked for details of Homes for Haringey properties in which roof compartmentalisation was an issue.

Mr Mclaughlin said he did not have the names of blocks to hand, but in a work programme agreed by the council in 2018 “a good deal of those (properties) did have compartmentalisation issues, whether in roof spaces or between floors, or between dwellings laterally”.

He added that more recently, Homes for Haringey had identified a problem with timber-framed buildings.

Mr McLaughlin said: “We recently had reports on 28 of those blocks, which we have discussed with council officers, and we have agreed to bring those forward to get cabinet approval to release the money from our capital funds to procure those works. That is going on all the time.”