Grenfell must never happen again
The enormity and tragedy of the fire at Grenfell Tower is a stark reminder that London cannot afford to ignore the deadly consequences of failing to protect its buildings from fire.
Londoners have a mixture of ‘passive’ and ‘active’ fire safety measures installed in their homes. Passive fire safety measures, such as fire doors, when combined with active measures which activate during a fire, such as fire alarms, can allow people to quickly and safely escape fires. The number of dwelling fires in London fell from 7,009 incidents in 2009/10,  to 5,507 in 2016/17, a fall of nearly 21 per cent. 
Requiring Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) like sprinklers, alongside passive protections like fire doors, could further significantly reduce the risk of loss of life and property. However,
Automatic fire suppression systems (AFSS) are not mandatory in residential buildings below 30 metres high in England.
On behalf of the London Assembly Planning Committee, Navin Shah AM has today released a report into AFSS in London. The report ‘Never Again: Sprinklers as the next step in fire safety’ recommends:
- The government should develop a road map with clear milestones towards making AFSS compulsory in every residential building in England.
- The Government should amend Building Regulations to make installing automatic fire suppression systems (AFSS) 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 AFSS in 200 existing high-risk buildings over the next five years.
Author of the report on behalf of the Planning Committee, Navin Shah AM said;
“What happened to Grenfell Tower and the people who lived there must never be allowed to happen again. Fire is unforgiving and we must not be complacent about its tragic consequences.
Since January 2016, the installation of Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) has been compulsory in all new dwellings in Wales, and in Norway, Finland - and in some US jurisdictions, sprinkler systems are also required.
The Government needs to set out a clear road map towards making AFSS mandatory in England. As a very important first step, AFSS must be made compulsory in all new residential buildings over 18 metres – 6 storeys – high, as well as new care homes and sheltered housing. We also want to see existing residential buildings fitted with AFSS as they come up for refurbishment.
Requiring AFSS to be retrofitted in every existing building is not immediately feasible. In those buildings over 30 metres high alone, this could cost up to £500 million.
A different approach is needed. The Mayor should focus on protecting those most vulnerable to fire risk through a new £50 million ‘London Sprinkler Retrofitting Fund’.
Currently, we are behind the rest of the world when it comes to safeguarding Londoners from the horrific consequences of fire. It is time we act swiftly and decisively to change this.”
Notes to editors
- ‘Never Again: Sprinklers as the next step in fire safety’ report attached
- LFEPA, 2017, London Fire Brigade - Incidents Attended - Summary Report
- Navin Shah AM, author of the report on behalf of the Planning Committee is available for interview. See contact details below
- London Assembly Planning Committee
- As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.
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