All new housing blocks of six storeys or more could soon require sprinklers under new fire safety plans proposed by the government in the wake of the Grenfell fire
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick announced yesterday (6 September) the government would be consulting on plans to lower the height threshold to ensure residents are ‘safe within their homes’.
Under current guidelines, sprinkler systems are required for buildings of 30m – approximately 10 storeys – or taller, but ministers will decide whether to bring this down to 18m – approximately six storeys.
This was one of the measures called for by the RIBA, though the institute also urged ministers to retrofit sprinklers to all existing residential buildings above 18m.
Ministers added that a new Protection Board was being set-up ‘immediately’ with the Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council to carry out checks of high-risk residential blocks.
Funding of £10 million will be made available for the new board, which will operate until a new building safety regulator is set up.
The body will ensure building owners are acting on the latest safety advice and that all owners of buildings with unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding have put interim measures in place.
Jenrick said: ‘Residents’ safety is our utmost priority and we are making vital improvements to ensure buildings are safe.
‘I have listened to concerns on sprinklers from residents and building owners and our proposals are an important step forward in shaping the future building safety standards.
‘The new Protection Board will make sure building owners don’t flout the rules, as well as ensuring fire-safety risks in other buildings are being addressed.’
The government also said that its £200 million fund to remove dangerous ACM cladding on privately owned high rises will open on 12 September.
Jenrick warned building owners that ‘inaction will have consequences’ and said he would name and shame building owners that do not start removing ACM over the autumn.