Fire chiefs have called for the lowering of the threshold for the use of sprinklers in high rise blocks of flats in the wake of the recent Bolton fire.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has submitted a response to the Government’s Approved Document B consultation paper ‘Sprinklers and other fire safety measures in high-rise blocks of flats’.

They called for an increase in the use of sprinklers across the board. They also called for the mandatory installation of the fire safety devices in all buildings 11m or higher.

‘Sprinklers should be mandatory in all new residential buildings from 11m (or 4 floors) and above, at a minimum,’ said chair of the NFCC Roy Wilsher.

‘NFCC has previously championed the requirement for sprinklers in high-rise block of flats above 18m, connected to a full review of linked measures in ADB [Approved Document B].

‘Currently there is a gap for protection of buildings between 11m and 18m.

‘With the threshold for sprinklers now being considered separately from a number of closely related safety measures, we believe the threshold should be lowered to 11m.’

NFCC sprinkler lead, Gavin Tomlinson, welcomed the stronger position.

‘The recent fire at the Bolton student accommodation on 15 November 2019 highlights only too well that fires do not discriminate, and that an 18m threshold is arbitrary,’ Mr Tomlinson said.

‘The NFCC will continue to lobby for more widespread use of sprinklers in many building types, and especially where they are home to vulnerable residents. The revising down of height thresholds is an important step in the right direction.’

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