Scottish MP calls for sprinklers in new social housing

Scottish MP calls for sprinklers in new social housing

DAVID STEWART is aiming to bring forward legislation to install sprinklers in all new social housing buildings in Scotland.

BBC News reported on the move by Mr Stewart, which saw him launch a consultation on a members bill to make sprinklers ‘mandatory in new buildings’, and his proposed legislation would ‘place a duty on councils and registered social landlords to install automatic fire suppression systems into all newly-constructed social housing’. The consultation will run until 16 April, and will seek views on action to be taken to ‘retrofit sprinklers into existing high-rise housing blocks’.

Mr Stewart, Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, commented that fire safety is a ‘significant issue’ in Scotland, particularly in ‘areas of socio-economic deprivation where house fires are more prevalent’. He added: ‘The scandal of Grenfell last summer was that protection was not available to those who were most in need. That is why I am making this common sense proposal to ensure all new social housing has a sprinkler system installed. This simple change in law is a practical step that will save lives.’

The campaign is backed by the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA), specifically in relation to the ‘requirement on new builds’ and on retrofitting sprinklers ‘into all high-rise social housing’. BAFSA’s chief executive Keith MacGillivray said that this legislation would ‘make a significant difference to the safety of the Scottish public and firefighters, while ensuring that Scotland’s housing stock is more sustainable’.

A BBC Scotland investigation had previously found there were no fire suppression systems in flats ‘in more than 300 high-rise buildings in towns and cities across the country’, also finding that of 15 deaths and 480 injuries since 2009 in Scottish high rise fires, ‘only one’ of the deaths occurred in a flat fitted with sprinklers.

The government responded by noting that sprinklers were ‘one of a number’ of measures being considered, with a spokeswoman stating: ‘Residential sprinklers are one of a number of fire safety measures currently being considered by our review into building fire safety standards chaired by Dr Paul Stollard.’