Report reveals lack of sprinklers in London council flats

The Lakanal House Fire in 2009 killed 6 people and resulted in the recommendation that sprinklers be installed across the country.

A Labour party report has revealed only 4% of London council blocks over 30 metres high have sprinklers.

Data shows that only 32 out of 837 high-rise council blocks have sprinkler systems. This is despite a coroner suggesting retro-fitting all councils install sprinklers after the Lakanal House fire in 2009.

Councils across the city pledged to install sprinkler systems after the Grenfell fire. When the Grenfell fire occurred in 2016, only nine tower blocks were fitted with sprinklers, however, since the fire, only 23 blocks have seen the systems installed.

Earlier this year, Sajid Javid said the government would do everything they could to would help councils with the cost of installing sprinkler systems.

So far only Croydon council has promised to install them in all of their high-rise tower blocks. Housing minister, Kit Malthouse, said: “Sprinklers can be effective, but they are one of many fire safety measures that can be adopted.” He also promised that the government was fully committed to removing and replacing unsafe cladding like that which was used on the Grenfell tower.

The Grenfell tower disaster caused a discussion about the safety of council blocks across the country.

The information secured via freedom of information requests covers only 29, of the 32 London councils and is part of a wider report of the whole country which is due to be released at a later date.

In a statement, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister Sarah Jones MP told the Voice of London: “Councils and social housing tenants have been betrayed by this Government who promised to do whatever it took after Grenfell to make tower blocks safe, and has since backtracked.” and called for a national fund to be implemented to help councils with the cost of installing the sprinkler systems.

The London Fire Brigade recommends the installation of sprinklers in high-rise blocks.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson told the Voice of London: “Sprinklers save lives, reduce injury and protect property and we have long been urging the government to take action on sprinklers.”

adding that “We believe building owners should retrofit sprinklers in tower blocks, especially in the homes of those who would find it difficult to escape a fire such as those with mobility problems and we have also been calling for sprinklers to be mandatory in all new school builds and major refurbishments.”

The London Fire Brigades official advice for if there’s a fire in or near your flat.

When asked about sprinklers, s spokesperson for Tower Hamlets council said that the safety of residents is important but council budgets are so limited it can be hard to implement sprinkler systems.

Labour Housing minister, John Healey, said: “Sprinklers save lives. Ministers must now set aside the funding to install sprinkler systems in all council and housing association tower blocks.”

Legislation enacted by Labour in 2007 requires all new-build blocks over 30 metres, however, the law did not require sprinklers to be fitted retrospectively.

Words: Harry Lye | Subbing: Salvi Shahlaie 


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