The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower block fire is being replayed at the official inquiry this week. So far, over four consecutive days, survivors of the tragic fire, in which 72 lives were lost, have been paying tribute to their friends, family members and loved ones who were the victims.
We at Applications Engineering are still shocked and saddened by the tragedy, which occurred in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on 14th June 2017. We continue to support the campaign for retrofitting fire sprinklers in all residential buildings.
We were delighted to hear the news that the City of London Corporation will be installing fire sprinklers in three of its social housing high-rise tower blocks on the Avondale Square Estate. As reported in the Fire & Risk Management journal, the City of London Corporation made the decision after its community and children’s services committee met to discuss safety measures in the five high-rises that form part of its social housing.
Three 20-storey towers in Southwark underwent a feasibility study, which found that the cost of installing fire sprinklers at West Point, Centre Point and East Point would be around £1.3 million plus VAT.
In addition, the committee also considered advice from the London Fire Brigade, who are calling for the retrofitting of fire sprinklers in all high-rise blocks and buildings housing vulnerable residents.
The London Fire Brigade’s 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.”
Since the Grenfell tragedy, the City of London Corporation has moved from a three-yearly Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) to an annual independent FRA. Front doors will also be upgraded to provide up to 60 minutes burn time. The committee were told that a front door at Eric Wilkins House in the borough had failed when exposed to fire for 15 minutes and 30 seconds. The Corporation estimated the replacement of all doors in the social housing blocks would cost around £4 million.
Tenants are also part of a programme of electrical testing and rewiring with new hard-wired fire detectors being installed.
At Applications Engineering we have been feeling frustrated by the slow response to make council high-rise housing safe from fire. This at least is a move in the right direction.