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LFB demands sprinklers for vulnerable residents

08 December 2017

LONDON FIRE Brigade (LFB) is calling for landlords to retrofit sprinklers in all high-rise blocks and other buildings with vulnerable residents.

The call comes as Waltham Forest Council pledged to install sprinklers in all 61 of its high priority blocks - something the Brigade is keen to see other boroughs replicate. Fire chiefs are also calling for all new high-rise buildings to be fitted with sprinklers as standard.

The Brigade wants to see landlords take the following steps:

  • All new residential developments over 18m in height to be fitted with sprinklers;
  • Existing residential blocks over 18m in height should be retrofitted with sprinklers;
  • Sprinklers to be mandatory in all new school builds and major refurbishments;
  • All new residential care homes and sheltered accommodation to be fitted with sprinklers;
  • Existing residential care homes and sheltered accommodation to be retrofitted with sprinklers;
  • Sprinklers in all homes occupied by the most vulnerable in our communities;
  • Installation of sprinklers in all other residential properties including hotels, hostels and student accommodation, over 18m in height; and
  • Sprinklers to be fitted in all new London Fire Brigade buildings

LFB assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly, said: “Sprinklers are the only system which detects a fire, suppresses a fire and raises the alarm and we believe they are vitally important as part of a package of fire safety measures, particularly in buildings where there are vulnerable people such as care-homes and schools.

“We have long been campaigning about the benefits of sprinklers, which save lives and property and also improve firefighter safety.

“Waltham Forest Council proves that it’s possible to retrofit sprinklers and more boroughs and housing owners should follow their lead to protect their most vulnerable residents, including those with mobility issues.”

The work being done by Waltham Forest Council includes fitting sprinklers in three of its sheltered housing buildings. The work is being partly funded by a one-off grant from the Brigade’s Community Safety Investment Fund and existing council budgets.

The Community Investment Fund was set up to help protect individuals and communities across London that most need it. More than £2million in fire prevention grants have been awarded from the fund for a variety of projects from smoke alarms and fire retardant bedding to arson proof letter boxes and ashtrays.

Assistant commissioner Daly added: “There has long been a myth that sprinkler systems are very expensive and of course costs vary depending on the type of system, but for example in schools if they are incorporated from the design stage, sprinklers are around 1% of the total build cost.

“There are also self-contained watermist systems which are designed to provide protection to vulnerable individuals who may be at increased risk of fire and have mobility issues which affect their ability to escape. These Personal Protection Systems (PPS) can be installed in one room of a property where a vulnerable person spends most of their time.”