Wandsworth high rises to see sprinklers installed

Wandsworth high rises to see sprinklers installed

THE LONDON borough will be commencing the installations ‘as soon as possible’.

Wandsworth Guardian reported on the council’s plans, after it ‘revealed’ none of the council tower blocks had sprinklers. The council is responsible for around 187 blocks, and announced in June it would retrofit sprinklers in 6,400 homes across 100 of the high rises ‘of ten storeys and above’. However, while noting the projects would begin ‘as soon as possible’, it did not give an exact date.

Two of the blocks, Sudbury House and Castlemaine Tower, feature the same type of cladding as Grenfell Tower, which the council intends to remove ‘as quickly as possible’, though in the meantime there are two fire marshals in the block ’24 hours a day’ as an ‘additional safety measure’. The council noted both of these towers ‘have experienced serious fires in recent years and in both cases the fires were contained within individual flats and did not spread anywhere else’.

It noted in turn that this suggested ‘that the design of the building, the method of installing the cladding and the materials used, stood up to the fire and prevented its spread to other parts of the building’. Claire Salier, the council's executive member for housing, stated that ‘across the country virtually no social housing tower blocks have sprinkler systems and Wandsworth’s will be among the first in the UK to have them installed.

‘Whilst our fire safety and containment systems are of the very highest standards, and are independently assessed by fire safety experts, this installation programme acts on the best advice from the Fire Brigade and will provide even greater reassurance and safety for residents in high rise blocks. It is now mandatory under Building Regulations for all new build blocks over 10 storeys to have sprinkler systems: these proposals bring our towers up to these standards’.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson also commented: ‘Sprinklers can suppress fires quickly, reduce property damage, potentially save lives, help with business continuity, reduce the impact of fires on the environment and protect firefighters. London Fire Brigade supports the installation of sprinklers in residential high rise blocks as part of its wider fire safety management strategy and for many years has also been campaigning to have them fitted in buildings which house some of the capital's most vulnerable people such as care homes, specialised accommodation and schools.’