London Assembly calls for sprinklers as next step in fire safety

Tower Block council housing


At Applications Engineering we were delighted to see the recent report released on behalf of the London Assembly Planning Committee by Navin Shah AM. The report ‘Never Again: Sprinklers as the next step in fire safety’ is the result of an investigation into fire safety following the Grenfell Tower disaster. Recommendations include:

  • The government should develop a road map with clear milestones towards making a fire sprinkler system compulsory in every residential building in England.
  • The Government should amend Building Regulations to make installing a fire sprinkler system in all new-build residential developments above 18 metres in height mandatory.
  • The Government should update the Building Regulations to require all new care homes and sheltered housing to be fitted with sprinkler systems in England
  • The Mayor should create a £50 million ‘London Sprinkler Retrofitting Fund’ to fund sprinkler systems in 200 existing high-risk buildings over the next five years.

The London Assembly Planning Committee were tasked with the role of scrutinising the detail of the London Plan, the Mayor’s use of planning powers and the strategic planning challenges facing London.

The report has been welcomed by all organisations who have been campaigning for greater levels of fire safety and the retrofitting of sprinklers in all tower blocks across the UK, including the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA), Inside Housing, and the London Fire Brigade.

Navin Shah opened the report by paying respects to all those who have died in fires in their homes and to the loved ones of all those who died and have suffered following the Grenfell Tower block fire.

On Grenfell, the London Assembly Planning Committee leader, Navin Shah, said, “It is crucial that we use outrage and the lessons of this fire to ensure that every Londoner is better protected from fire in their homes.

“Sprinklers are a reliable and cost-effective fire safety measure that can greatly reduce the risk of death, injury, property damage and harm to local communities.” Grenfell Tower was not fitted with a fire sprinkler system during its £9.2 million renovation in 2016.

The Independent reports that sprinklers could have been fitted throughout Grenfell Tower for about £200,000. It is yet another reminder of the cost-effectiveness of fire sprinkler systems.

Shah concludes in the report that the evidence points towards making sprinklers mandatory in all residential buildings in the long term, but that it wouldn’t be feasible to make sprinklers immediately mandatory. Instead, the report recommends a risk-based, phased programme towards an end goal of making sprinklers mandatory in all homes in England.

He also urged the Government, the Mayor and local authorities to act now while the drive for change is palpable. At Applications Engineering, we couldn’t agree more that the time is right for action.

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