LFB responds to sprinkler consultation

LFB responds to sprinkler consultation

LONDON FIRE Brigade (LFB) welcomed the consultation and reiterated that sprinklers are a ‘simply way to save more lives and reduce the risks to firefighters’.

Last week, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced proposals that ‘would ensure more sprinklers in new high-rise blocks of flats’. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and building safety minister lord Younger stated that the proposals would see sprinklers ‘installed in new high-rise blocks of flats’, and formed an ‘important step forward in the government’s commitment to ensuring residents are safe in their homes’.

The main element of the consultation – running until 28 November - is to reduce the building height ‘for when sprinklers are required’ from 30m and above to 18m ‘or other relevant thresholds’, while a new protection board is being set up ‘immediately’ between the Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to ‘provide further reassurance to residents of high-risk residential blocks that any risks are identified and acted upon’.

About £10m of funding a year has been made available to support this board, which will provide ‘expert, tailored’ building checks and inspections ‘if necessary’ on all high risk residential buildings in England by 2021. It will operate until a new building safety regulator is established, and until legislation on a new building safety regime is introduced.

The board will ‘ensure building owners are acting on the latest safety advice’, keep residents updated and that interim measures ‘are in place’ for all buildings clad with combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding. Its work will be informed by data collection work by local authorities to identify cladding types, and funded by another government contribution of £4m.

In turn, from 12 September the application process for the £200m fund for removing ACM from privately owned buildings will be opened ‘to accelerate the pace’ of removal and replacement. The consultation on the sprinklers and other measures will last 12 weeks, and forms ‘part of the first proposed changes to building regulations in England covering fire safety within and around buildings’, including introducing emergency evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services.

LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly commented: ‘We welcome the news that the Government have listened to our concerns on sprinklers and intend to consult on the inclusion of sprinklers in new residential high rise buildings at 18 metres and above. For over ten years, we have lobbied for more buildings to have sprinklers as it is a simple way to save more lives and reduce the risks to firefighters.

‘The current guidance accompanying building regulations states that all new residential buildings over 30 metres should have sprinklers installed and this is not good enough. Sprinklers provide much needed time when a fire breaks out in any building with people in it. They are the only system that tackles the fire immediately and they protect people and properties.

‘Modern fire suppression systems target the seat of fire rather than an entire building. The impact of fire on people’s lives and property far outweighs the monetary cost. The Brigade will do all it can to explain the life and property saving value of sprinklers during this consultation.’