We call on the Mayor of Hackney and Hackney Council to take immediate steps to install sprinkler systems in all of the council’s residential tower blocks that are taller than 30 metres.
By law, buildings constructed since 2007 and that are taller than 30 metres are required to have sprinkler systems fitted, whilst retrofitting older blocks is recommended best practice rather than a legal requirement.
Following the 2009 Lakanal House fire in which six people died, a coroner’s report issued in 2013 recommended the installation of sprinklers in all high-rise tower blocks.
Alan Cutkelvin Rees, who lives in Queensbridge Road, told the Hackney Citizen: “I live in a nineteen storey block, there are six flats on each floor. Quite a number of vulnerable people live here. However, the building has no sprinklers fitted – they should be in every tower block in Hackney.”
The Chief Fire Officer’s Association says there is a strong business case for retrofitting sprinkler systems in older high-rises, citing an estimated cost of £1,150 per flat.
The report notes: “The cost of sprinklers per block or per flat will compare very favourably with other fire protection methods which might otherwise be required to provide acceptable levels of fire safety for older blocks, especially for blocks such as Lakanal House, which only have a single staircase”.
Currently just two of the borough’s 181 social housing tower blocks have sprinklers installed, the council has confirmed, as fire safety comes under scrutiny following the Grenfell Tower fire.
A spokesperson told the Hackney Citizen: “The only blocks with a fire sprinkler system are Scotney and Exbury on the Frampton Park Estate.”
This accounts for 1.1 per cent of social housing tower blocks in the borough, and means 98.9 per cent of the council’s high rise blocks do not have sprinklers installed.
Hackney Council was at first unable to say how many high-rise buildings had sprinklers when contacted by the Citizen on 15 June.
Mayor Philip Glanville revealed the number was two on Twitter the next day in response to the Citizen‘s story.
The council installed a “pioneering” sprinkler system in 258 homes in Frampton Park Estate in 2016.
Fire risk concerns were first raised by residents on the estate seven years previously.
At that time, the then cabinet member for housing Philip Glanville noted the importance of sprinkler systems, saying that “Hackney … places the risk of fire and the safety and welfare of all residents as highest priority. Hackney is once again at the forefront of resident safety with this fire sprinkler system, providing residents with an extra layer of safety in case the worst should happen.”
This article was amended at 12:55 on Friday 23 June 2017 to include the quote from Alan Cutkelvin Rees.