There were twelve fires in Newham’s care homes last year – and no sprinklers installed in any of them.
London fire brigade are urging care homes, retirement homes and hostels across the capital to review their fire safety systems, after figures revealed that just one per cent have life-saving sprinklers installed.
Fires happen, on average, every day at care homes across London, and the fire brigade is using Sprinkler Awareness Week to demand the installation of automatic fire suppression systems in high rise buildings, schools, and care homes.
Borough Commander for Newham, Spencer Alden-Smith, said: “It’s a tragic fact that many of the fires we see involve vulnerable people who have mobility or health issues that mean they are unable to escape even small fires, and they may suffer fatal or life changing injuries before the fire brigade is even called.
“We need to ensure sufficient and appropriate protection measures are in place to safeguard these people where they live and suppression systems should be part of those considerations.
“Small fires can kill and soon develop into large fires unless they are stopped. Automatic fire suppression systems such as sprinklers can stop those small fires developing into tragedy.”
AFSS are the only systems which can detect fires, suppress them, and raise an alarm, and Steve said the idea they’re expensive is a myth.
He said: “Costs vary depending on the type of system, but in schools, for example, if they are incorporated from the design stage, sprinklers are around one per cent of the total build cost.”
He also suggested self-contained watermist systems, which are designed to protect vulnerable people who, because of mobility issues, might find it harder to escape. These systems can be installed in one room of a property where the resident spends most of their time.
Of the 428 fires in London’s care homes and hostels last year, sprinklers were only installed in five. There were three fatalities and 53 injuries in these fires.
During Sprinkler Awareness Week, the fire brigade are repeating calls for blocks higher than 18m to be fitted with sprinklers, along with all residential care homes and sheltered accommodation.