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'Grenfell is a turning point': Fire chief calls for sprinklers in all tower blocks

Grenfell tower fire crop
  • 3 Comments

The London Fire Brigade commissioner has called for sprinklers to be installed in all existing tower blocks, saying the Grenfell Tower fire ‘should be a turning point’ 

Commissioner Dany Cotton, who was at the scene of the blaze, told the BBC that retrofitting fire sprinkler systems in residential towers should be one of the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower inquiry.

‘Grenfell should be a turning point,’ she said. ‘I support retrofitting; for me where you can save one life then it’s worth doing.

‘This can’t be optional, it can’t be a “nice to have”, this is something that must happen. If that isn’t one of the recommendations [of the inquiry] then I will be so very disappointed.’

The June blaze in the west London tower block, which had recently been refurbished by Studio E Architects, claimed at least 80 lives.

In England, the Building Regulations state that sprinkler systems need to be installed in new-build blocks of flats more than 30m in height. However, this rule does not apply retroactively, or for the refurbishment of tower buildings built before this regulation was introduced. 

The rules in England are less stringent than those in Scotland, where sprinklers must be installed in new-build blocks of flats above 18m in height, and in Wales where sprinklers are required in all new-build homes.

The BBC’s Freedom of Information-led investigation looked at around half of the UK’s tower blocks owned by councils and housing associations. It was revealed that only two per cent had full sprinkler systems.

The AJ has contacted the Department of Communities and Local Government for comment. 

In June, Croydon Council said it would install sprinkler systems in its 25 tallest tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower fire. 

Yesterday [12 September], the government published its call for evidence for the independent review of the Building Regulations, including those covering fire safety. 

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • I agree, and Grenfell was too tall to be limited to one escape stair.

    But it was the combination of combustible external insulation and its detailing which pushed the fire into flats, combined with the alterations to the bottom 4 floors which were the real problems.

    Combined with lax Building Regulations and more than sloppy procurement procedures.

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  • The question that springs to mind is how much should be done to existing inhabited stock. Going forward sprinklers may/should become standard but who will pick up the works to the existing and how in the current framework is it to be enforced especially in a time of tight council budgets and housing shortages.

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  • Geoff Williams

    Sprinklers are a step forward but enforcement of a 2hour rated metal sheathed fireproof cable should be mandatory. The danger of fire in high rise structures is always imminent although we like to think they are a rare occurrence. Fighting fire in congested City locations and fighting fires internally above 7 floors is a distinct hazard. Maintenance of the electrical supply is paramount. Experts in Germany maintain that up to 40% of fires Worldwide have an electrical cable origin. The use of a 2hour fire rated cable, preferably MICC, should be mandatory.

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