Speaking at the launch of the retrofit sprinkler project in Callow Mount, Meg Munn, MP for Sheffield Heeley, pledged to fight for automatic sprinklers to be installed in all high rise buildings and even said she would take the question to the House of Commons.

After joining more than 40 UK fire safety professionals and elected members in celebrating the successful installation of retrofit automatic fire sprinklers in 47 flats on the Sheffield estate, she said:

"I'm pleased this project in my constituency has demonstrated that sprinklers can be fitted on existing high rise blocks without difficulty. It's time for Government and local authorities to act to prevent further unnecessary loss of life."

She went on to add that she would table a Parliamentary Question at the earliest available opportunity asking for wider use of sprinklers in such blocks and in all new build high rises.

Neil Gibbins from the Chief Fire Officers Association said:"There has been a number of serious fires in flats around the country which has lead to the tragic deaths of both residents and firefighters.

"Fires such as Lakanal House and Shirley Towers have lead us all to question and revisit the design and management of tower blocks.

"Throughout the Fire & Rescue Service of the UK, we have had a single voice in stating that sprinklers have a huge role to play in fire safety in the future."

Projects like Callow Mount have shown it is possible to carry out this essential work without disruption to residents, who were never asked to leave their homes during the installation, and provide further evidence of the important role sprinklers play in protecting "life, business and the environment in the future."

Evidence of the importance of sprinklers has already come from Scotland, as Keith MacGillivray from Sprinkler Coordination Group Scotland pointed out.

"We retro fitted sprinklers in three multi-storey blocks in Ayrshire in Scotland - about ten years ago thus while the costs are neither recent nor relevant, the effects of sprinklers in these flats is clear for everyone to see," he said.

"We've had two, separate, serious fires in the blocks and on both occasions the sprinklers acted effectively to ensure there was no loss of life, no injuries and minimal fire damage."

He estimated the maintenance cost of retrofit sprinklers was around £250, compared to the average cost of a fire in a single flat being "in the region of £10,000 damage."

The government is yet to respond to this latest installation or calls from the likes of FIRE editor, Andrew Lynch, to have legislation passed on the mandatory installation of sprinklers, but Project Manager, Steve Seaber, confirmed he would be compiling a thorough report which he hoped would convince MPs to act.

"This report will form the basis for a programme to promote the potential use of fire sprinklers to enhance the safety of residents  to local housing authorities and private landlords, fire and rescue services and the fire protection industry," he said.

"It will provide a fully documented guide to the retrofit process, including comprehensive true and full life costings for all aspects of the project."





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Pictures: Top & front - Megg Munn (far left) with fire safety officers at the installation; Bottom: Callow Mount

Posted October 27 2011 at 1015. Comment by emailing: richard.hook@pavpub.com