Fire safety and sprinkler systems - House of Commons, 12 March 2019

We are calling on the Government to introduce tougher sprinkler rules to ensure fire safety in high-rise buildings and care homes. 

Key messages 

  • Studies have shown that sprinklers operate on 94 per cent of occasions and when they do, they extinguish or contain the fire in 99 per cent of incidents. They also reduce fire injuries and fire damage by 80 per cent. 
  • Our key recommendation is that the Government lowers the height threshold at which automatic fire suppression systems (AFSS), such as sprinklers, are required from 30 metres (10 storeys) to 18 metres (or lower depending on the outcome of the Government’s reviews of Approved Document B and other aspects of building safety). 
  • We also want to see AFSS, such as sprinklers, installed in all new premises where vulnerable people sleep, such as care homes and residential schools. 
  • Not only are these measures proven to be more effective in enhancing building safety, but introducing them would provide reassurance to residents who are concerned about their safety. 
  • These calls go beyond the recommendations in last year’s Hackitt report. If the definition of high-rise buildings as yet out in the Hackitt review is not widened, we are calling for sprinklers or other AFSS to be retrofitted to existing blocks over 18 metres high, care homes and other high risk premises where a risk assessment justifies it. 
  • The funding allocated by the Government to local authorities to carry out remedial safety work on high rise buildings has been welcome. The Government should now commit to providing assistance to any council experiencing financial difficulty in meeting the retrospective obligations above as it has done in respect of the remediation of social housing blocks with flammable cladding. 
  • More than half of the fire and rescue services in England and Wales have experienced significant increases in the amount of prevention and protection work as a result of additional safety checks being carried out following the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. These checks have had to be carried out in the context of reductions to the fire service workforce, as well as funding reductions for both local authorities and fire and rescue authorities. 
  • We are concerned that this approach to ensuring people’s safety is not sustainable. It could expose communities to risk unless the new provisions and expectations on fire and rescue services arising from the Hackitt review are treated as a new burden and funded accordingly.

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Fire safety and sprinkler systems - House of Commons, 12 March 2019