Runnymede Council utilise Automist fire sprinkler for Surrey Tower retrofit

5 Jun 2018

Runnymede Council began a programme to retrofit sprinklers to flats within its only tower block – the 16-storey Surrey Towers in Addlestone. To avoid issues with access and disruption to tenants, installations took place when they are either subject to major internal works, or at the time of re-letting.

The authority adopted the policy a couple of years ago in consultation with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service after reviewing its fire risk assessment in light of the coroner’s ruling following the Shirley Towers blaze. It has fitted more than 20 of the 95 flats so far (circa July 2015).

Three women and three children lost their lives in a devastating fire at Lakanal House in London. Less than 12 months later, two firefighters died in another high-rise tragedy at Shirley Towers in Southampton.

At both inquests into these two fatal fires in local authority tower blocks, the coroners used their Rule 43 letters – recommendations to prevent future deaths – to say that social landlords should consider retrofitting sprinklers in high-rise blocks.

The law

Building regulations in England require sprinklers to be installed to flats in new residential blocks over 30 metres in height. In Scotland, sprinklers are required in new blocks above 18 metres.

Wales has required sprinklers in buildings such as new and converted care homes, hostels and halls of residence of any height since April 2014. All new or converted homes must have sprinklers from January 2016.

There is no requirement to retrofit sprinklers to existing high-rise blocks.

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