Dany Cotton will be “so very disappointed” if this isn’t one of the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower inquiry
London’s fire commissioner has called for sprinklers to be fitted in all high-rise council flats, adding the Grenfell Tower tragedy must be a “turning point”.
An investigation by BBC Breakfast, which focused on half of the UK’s council and housing association-owned tower blocks, found that just 2% have full sprinkler systems and of those, 68% have just one staircase through which to evacuate.
A public inquiry, which will hold its first hearing tomorrow, will look at the causes of the blaze, the adequacy of high-rise regulations, the tower’s refurbishment and the actions of public authorities before and after the fire. An initial report is due by Easter 2018.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed it will consider whether to retrofit sprinklers as a result of the recommendations from the inquiry.
Speaking to the BBC, Dany Cotton, commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, said: “I support retrofitting. Where you can save one life, then it is worth doing.
“The cost of retrofitting, if you look at a flat, you’re talking about £1,500-£2,500. If you look at the cost and damage if you have a fire in a flat and you have to refurbish it or rehouse people, it is a massive cost.
“Sprinklers are truly the only thing that not only detects fires and alerts the people in the building to the fire, but puts the fire out as well.
“If this isn’t one of the recommendations (of the Grenfell Tower inquiry) then I will be so very disappointed.”
In 2007, it was made compulsory for sprinklers to be present in new-build high rises over 30 metres tall in England, but this was not applied retroactively so did not apply to Grenfell Tower, which was built in 1974.
Croydon Council has taken the decision to retrofit sprinklers in its 25 high-rise blocks at a cost of £10m.
In Wales, all new homes built from last year now have to be fitted with sprinkler systems.
According to research from the National Fire Association in the US from July, the civilian rate per 1,000 reported home fires was 81% lower in those with sprinklers than in those with no automatic extinguising systems (AES).