Come on England!

You would be forgiven for thinking I am willing England’s fortunes on in the football World Cup, or even calling out in exasperation over the continuing Brexit debacle. With Ministers jumping ship, it seems the cabinet deserves quite a bit more than a pep talk. England’s football team, on the other hand, deserve a round of applause as they appear to have shaken off the burden of history with a lightness not seen in decades.

While both are hot topics in the engine room at Applications Engineering, I’m sharing news of Scotland’s move towards making fire sprinklers mandatory in all social housing. My call ‘Come on England’ is for us to simply take heed and follow suit.

Following the tragic Grenfell Tower in London in which 72 lives were lost, the Scottish government set up a ministerial working group to oversee a review of building and fire safety regulatory frameworks in Scotland.

Following the review, MSP David Stewart proposed a members’ Bill to make it a legal requirement for all future new build social housing properties to be fitted with sprinkler systems. Currently, all new high-rise domestic buildings, both social and private, with a floor over 18 meters must have automatic fire suppression systems fitted. Now a law to make sprinklers mandatory in all new social housing in Scotland is being taken forward.

As reported on the Scottish government’s website Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“I am very grateful to David Stewart for his work on bringing forward this important issue and gaining cross-party support for his proposal. I can confirm that the Scottish Government will implement the aim of Mr Stewart’s proposal and will bring forward legislation as soon as is practicable in this Parliamentary session.

“This is an opportunity to further improve standards in our social housing and this work will be taken forward alongside the recommendations of the two reviews of building standards and fire safety which we will consult on later this summer.

“I look forward to continuing to work together with David Stewart and the very many others who have contributed to date in order to see this legislation through.”

In 2011, Wales were the first country in the world to pass legislation to make sprinklers compulsory in all new homes. However, a report for WalesOnline last year suggested that thousands of new homes won’t have sprinklers as housebuilders are using a ‘loophole’ to avoid the law.

Despite calls from fire safety experts, such as the London Fire Brigade, The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association and recommendations by the London Assembly in their post-Grenfell report Never again: Sprinklers as the next step towards safer homes, England are woefully behind in their response.

Attitudes towards social housing in England need to change. Government needs to take responsibility before another tragedy rips the heart out of yet another vulnerable community. At Applications Engineering we will continue to support the campaign for what is right – fire sprinklers in all residential properties. Come on England. We are better than this!

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