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28-02-19

NFCC reinforces its sprinklers position

The National Fire Chiefs Council shares the concerns of London Fire Brigade after a poll for the brigade revealed 66% of Londoners would feel unsafe living in a high-rise block of flats.

NFCC’s research with the National Fire Sprinkler Network has proven the effectiveness of suppression systems in extinguishing fires.

The Council believes sprinklers should be part of overall fire safety solutions in a range of new and existing buildings.

The research found that, in both converted and purpose-built flats, sprinklers are 100% effective in controlling fires and supported the concept of risk-assessed retro-fitting of sprinklers into existing buildings. 

This week, the NFCC will be submitting its response to the Whitehall Government’s Call for Evidence as part of the technical review of the building regulations Approved Document B.

Terry McDermott, NFCC Lead for Automatic Water Supression Systems, said:

“We are concerned to hear that councils are not getting the funds needed to make fire safety improvements which would make high-rise buildings and local communities as safe as they can be.

“Standards in England must be enhanced and brought in line with national policy in Scotland and Wales on the fitting of water suppression systems.”

Currently, sprinklers:

  • are only a legal requirement in new residential blocks over 30 metres tall in England
  • in Wales, sprinklers must be fitted in all new domestic premises, including houses
  • in Scotland, residential buildings including care homes, sheltered housing, schools and high-rises taller than 18 metres require sprinklers. The Scottish Government has committed to applying sprinkler requirements to buildings higher than 11 metres.

The NFCC recommends that sprinklers:

  • become a requirement in all new high-rise residential structures
  • be retro-fitted in buildings more than 30 metres tall when they are refurbished
  • should be retro-fitted in high-rise residential buildings over 30 metres with a single staircase, regardless of refurbishment plans
  • should be provided in new residential care premises and specialised housing

and that:

  • as in Wales, the introduction of sprinklers in new domestic properties should be explored.

Additionally, the Council supports Scotland’s risk-based approach to fitting sprinklers in newly-built social housing.

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