The London Fire Brigade (LFB) chief says all residential tower blocks and new schools should be built with sprinklers following the Grenfell Tower disaster .
Commissioner Dany Cotton has called on the government to take action and act on recommendations LFB has been “making for years”.
She was speaking on the eve of the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster, which begins on Thursday (September 12).
Commissioner Cotton said: “The tragic fire at Grenfell has thrown fire safety into the spotlight and while we are not pre-empting the findings of the inquiry, now is the time to remind government of life-saving recommendations we have been making for years.
“We are calling for residential tower blocks to be retrofitted with sprinklers and they should be mandatory in all new school builds and major refurbishments.”
What LFB is calling for:
- The retrofitting of sprinklers in all residential high-rise tower blocks, as part of an appropriate package of fire safety measures.
- Sprinklers to be installed in all school new builds and major refurbishments.
Commissioner Cotton said her crews are called to more than 80 fires a year in London’s schools and in most cases, sprinklers are not fitted.
The LFB says this means millions of pounds is wasted repairing fire damage and also water damage from fire crews hoses.
Modern sprinklers will only activate near to the flame, and use much less water than a hose.
Commissioner Cotton said: “Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and raises the alarm.
“They save lives and protect property and they are especially important where there are vulnerable residents who would find it difficult to escape, like those with mobility problems.
“My priority is to save lives but I can also make an economic case for sprinklers .
“It costs around £1,500 to £2,500 to retrofit a flat, while the cost of refurbishing a one-bedroom flat after a fire is about £77,000.”
Last year the government consulted on removing guidance around incorporating sprinklers into all new school builds and refurbishments.
In the same year, the LFB recommended sprinklers in 184 London schools being refurbished or built, and yet it said its advice was taken in four of these cases.
Commissioner Cotton continued: “For years builders, developers, local authorities and private housing providers have ignored the clear benefits of sprinklers.
“It’s not just about homes, we go to around 80 fires in London schools every year.
"Fires in schools cause major disruption to pupils, breakfast and after school clubs are cancelled and often, a costly repair bill could have been avoided.
“If they are incorporated from the design stage, sprinklers are around 1% of the total build cost.”
At least 80 people died in the Grenfell Tower blaze on June 14.
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