A high-rise block in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear is set to have ground-breaking fire safety work carried out to keep its residents secure in their homes, reports Julie Knox. 

Regent Court, a ten-storey block with 160 residents, will have an innovative sprinkler system fitted to all flats, as well as in communal areas to help prevent future tragic events similar to the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell where six people sadly lost their lives. 

This project has been launched after fire safety staff from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service took a number of representatives from the five Tyne and Wear Local Authority housing providers to the Callow Mount Project in Sheffield, which has just completed a full retrofit with domestic sprinklers.

The Callow Mount project is the first of its kind where an existing high rise block of flats has been retro-fitted with a domestic sprinkler system complying to British Standard 9251. The entire project, which now protects 47 homes, came in at a cost of £80,000 and took only five weeks to complete. What is more astonishing is that none of the residents needed to be re-housed allowing them to remain at home whilst the work was being carried out.

The aim of the visit was to encourage the local authority housing providers to consider the practicability and cost effectiveness of using sprinklers to safely protect residents from fire in high rise tower blocks in Tyne and Wear in the future.

Representatives from The Gateshead Housing Company could clearly appreciate the life saving benefits of the sprinkler system and acted swiftly on their return. They began to work closely with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to make arrangements to install the domestic sprinklers at Regent Court during summer 2012 and arranged a number of information sessions for residents so they could fully understand the installation process and what it would mean to them. The Gateshead Housing Company has also committed to upgrading fire safety measures across their stock of 29 high-rise blocks within Tyne and Wear.    

Area Manager for Community Safety, John Baines, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This is an exciting and ground breaking project for the North East which will improve the safety of residents in their homes. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is delighted to be working in partnership with Gateshead Housing Company and we look forward to working closely over the coming months to deliver this project, whilst exploring opportunities to undertake similar projects with other housing providers in Tyne and Wear. Our aim is, as ever, to work in partnership to ensure safe environments for our communities, whether in their home or work environments, or when enjoying social and leisure activities."

Neil Bouch, Director of Customers and Communities at The Gateshead Housing Company, said: "The company sees the work as vitally important.  The safety and security of our tenants and leaseholders is our top priority and we are delighted to be working with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service on such an innovative scheme. The fitting of a sprinkler system to an existing building has never been done before in this region and we are delighted to be leading the way in ensuring our high-rise residents stay even safer in their homes."


Photo: Rebecca Weightman of The Gateshead Housing Company and Station Manager Ian Bell of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, show sprinklers to be fitted at high rise flats at Regent Court, Gateshead


Posted March 12th, 2012 at 1510 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: andrew.lynch@pavpub.com