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Manchester to fit £10.5m of sprinklers in council-owned towers

Manchester skyline sue langford flickr crop
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Sprinkler systems will be installed in all of Manchester’s council-owned high rise buildings – at a cost of around £10.5 million – in response to the Grenfell tragedy

Manchester City Council said it had decided to fit sprinklers in its 36 tower blocks following the completion of ‘high level’ fire risk assessments. The local authority had already carried out basic safety procedures immediately after the west London fire. 

However, the authority said the council-funded measures would have an ‘unavoidable knock-on effect’ on works planned for its other properties. The AJ understands the council will also request central government funding in order to subsidise the works. 

Manchester City Council deputy leader Bernard Priest said: ‘We believe that we should retrofit sprinkler systems in our high-rise properties, but it is important that we do this in conversation with our residents – and funding the works will need to be in conversation with government for their support.’

He added that it was ‘vital’ for there to be a review into the enforcement powers of councils and the fire service, so as to ‘ensure the legislation is in place to fully protect residents’. The council said that there was a ‘lack of clarity’ within the current legislation concerning the Fire Safety Orders and Housing Acts.

The council has also written to every owner or building manager of the 216 privately-owned high rises identified in the city, to establish whether the cladding or other building materials used present potential dangers.

It said the owners of 12 private buildings with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding had responded and begun ’actioned remedial works or commissioned fire risk assessments’ to reassure residents.

This information, said the council, would be used to build a ‘detailed database’, which is being shared with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) as part of a ‘national picture’.

The first procedural hearing for the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry concluded today in Holborn Bars, central London. 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Geoff Williams

    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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  • Geoff Williams

    The more I explore the subject of fire safety in high rise building structures, the more I get alarmed at what I see. Many of these buildings have been in service over at least two decades and the electrical wiring is showing it's age both in terms of time and product utilisation. Additional load is always a problem in power circuitry. I would suggest that the state of the wiring should be addressed before proceeding with the fitment of "sprinklers" although I would hasten to add these are a way forward in the future. Surely the regulations and rules for engagement need to be clearly determined and the use of fireproof cables must be a paramount consideration.

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