A senior firefighter has called for “decisive action” to be launched to fit sprinklers in all high-rise buildings following the Grenfell Tower blaze.
Dave Curry, chief officer for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said sprinklers are a “proven” way to prevent the spread of fire in buildings and can “drastically reduce the threat to life”.
He said a blaze in Shirley Towers in Southampton in 2010, in which two firefighters died, led the coroner to call for the retrofitting of sprinklers to be considered.
Mr Curry said: “While we may be unable to speculate on the specifics of the Grenfell Tower incident, history tells us that, sadly, lives have been lost in previous high-rise fires. This includes two of our Hampshire firefighters in Shirley Towers in Southampton in 2010.
“Following the inquest into Shirley Towers, the coroner recommended the retrofitting of sprinklers be considered in all high-rise blocks. This was also the case following the Lakanal House fire in London in 2009, in which six people died. Yet disasters such as last week’s are still capable of occurring.
“Since Shirley Towers, we have campaigned for the installation of sprinklers in high-rise buildings and I believe that, as a country, we must now commit to the installation of these life-saving devices in all high-rise blocks.
“Time and again, sprinklers have been proven to prevent the spread of fire in buildings and drastically reduce the threat to life. In Hampshire, we are working with all high-rise building owners and landlords to ensure all of these structures are inspected and that residents feel safe in their homes.
“Grenfell Tower was a fire on an unprecedented scale, but those living in high-rise blocks will now understandably feel concern around their safety. It is time for decisive action that will not only allow families to feel safe living in buildings such as these, but to prevent anyone having to relive the terrifying events that unfolded in Grenfell Tower last week.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the Government wants to see the technical advice before ordering the fitting of sprinklers.
He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “If the conclusion of a proper technical evaluation is that that is the best way to deal with the problem, then of course. But my understanding is that the best expert advice is that retrofitting sprinklers may not always be the best technical way of ensuring fire safety in a building.”
Meanwhile, sprinkler systems will be fitted in all 24 of Sheffield’s residential tower blocks, the city council announced. The local authority is the latest to make the decision and said it is beginning meetings with residents on Wednesday to explain the proposals.