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LFB backs London Assembly report on sprinklers

22 March 2018

LONDON FIRE Brigade has welcomed the London Assembly Planning Committee’s report on sprinklers, which has been published this morning.

Navin Shah AM led a review into whether Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) should be made mandatory in London’s homes and the report entitled ‘Never again: Sprinklers as the next step towards safer homes’ includes recommendations that the Government should:

  • Develop a road map with clear milestones towards making AFSS compulsory in every residential building in England;
  • Amend Building Regulations to make installing AFSS in all new-build residential developments above 18m in height mandatory;
  • Update the building regulations to require all new care homes and sheltered housing to be fitted with sprinkler systems in England

The Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly said: “Even small fires can kill and soon develop into large fires unless they are stopped.

“We have long campaigned on the importance of sprinklers and we need to ensure sufficient and appropriate protection measures are in place to safeguard people where they live and suppression systems should be part of those considerations.

“We welcome the London Assembly’s report and support the recommendations it makes. Sprinklers are the only system which detects a fire, suppresses a fire and raises the alarm and we believe they are vitally important.

“Since 2016, sprinklers have been compulsory in all new dwellings in Wales – and it’s time we caught up with those standards in England.” 

Navin Shah said: "It is crucial that we use the outrage and the lessons of this fire (Grenfell Tower) to ensure that every Londoner is better protected from fire in their homes. That is why I led this review on behalf of the Planning Committee to look at whether sprinklers should be made mandatory in London’s homes.

"The evidence clearly suggests that sprinklers can provide an additional layer of fire safety before the London Fire Brigade arrive. The Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Dany Cotton told the London Assembly that “as a measure as part of a range of options in making buildings safe [sprinklers] are key going forward.” Sprinklers are a reliable and cost-effective fire safety measure that can greatly reduce risk of death, injury, property damage and harm to local communities.

"In the long term the evidence also strongly points towards making sprinklers mandatory in all residential buildings as has been the case in Wales since 2016. But it is important to be pragmatic and accept that given the magnitude of the task it is not feasible to make sprinklers immediately mandatory in all buildings in England. Retrofitting sprinklers in buildings over 30 metres high– 10 storeys – in London alone could cost up to £500 million and the relatively small sprinkler industry would be overwhelmed due to the issues of capacity.

"As such, we are calling for a risk-based, phased, ‘road map’ towards making sprinklers mandatory in all homes in England. So we are recommending that the Building Regulations should require all new residential buildings over 18 metres – 6 storeys – high, new care homes and sheltered housing be fitted with sprinklers immediately. We also call on the Government to require sprinklers to be retrofitted in every existing tall building, care home and sheltered housing block during refurbishment work."

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) also welcomed the news, a statement said: "BAFSA is delighted to report that the London Assembly has launched a powerful and comprehensive report calling for the mandatory installation sprinklers in all new homes in England."