£10mil­lion a small price to pay to in­stall sprin­klers

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Ju­dith Ton­ner

Sprin­kler sys­tems are set to be fit­ted to ev­ery tower block across Air­drie and Coat­bridge in a £10mil­lion move to min­imise fire risk.

North La­nark­shire Coun­cil has made the pro­posal fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions with the fire ser­vice and struc­tural sur­veys; with work an­tic­i­pated to be­gin “as soon as prac­ti­cal” later this year.

As­sis­tant chief ex­ec­u­tive Des Mur­ray said: “Min­imis­ing risk in our 48 tower blocks is our ab­so­lute pri­or­ity.

“We have con­cluded that – while our fire safety ar­range­ments are ro­bust – in­stalling sprin­klers will fur­ther en­hance safety and pro­vide ad­di­tional re­as­sur­ance.”

He added: “We have ro­bust fire and safety pro­ce­dures, in­clud­ing care­tak­ers be­ing fully fire-war­den trained, safety guid­ance is­sued to all res­i­dents and reg­u­lar fire risk as­sess­ments car­ried out.”

Of­fi­cials had al­ready been sur­vey­ing tow­ers since Au­gust 2016, but changed the for­mat in the wake of the Gren­fell Tower tragedy in Lon­don last June to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion first on “ex­ter­nal cladding fire in­tegrity”, then in­ter­nal struc­ture such as “com­part­men­tal­i­sa­tion of the homes and com­mon ar­eas”.

Phase three, re­view­ing columns, beams, floors and roofs, is due to get un­der­way soon and will take around 10 months. Fire­fight­ers have also been con­duct­ing their own ad­di­tional safety sur­veys.

Hous­ing com­mit­tee mem­bers will to­mor­row be asked to ap­prove the pro­posal for sprin­klers – de­scribed as “the most ef­fec­tive way to en­sure fires are sup­pressed or even ex­tin­guished be­fore the fire ser­vice can ar­rive”.

A re­port notes: “While there is no le­gal re­quire­ment to fit sprin­klers ( at this time), it is con­sid­ered the most ef­fec­tive way to en­hance fire safety.

“Fol­low­ing dis­cus­sion with the Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice [on] their rec­om­men­da­tions, it is pro­posed that con­sid­er­a­tion be given to in­stalling au­to­matic sprin­klers in tower blocks where deemed ap­pro­pri­ate and fea­si­ble.

“Con­sul­ta­tion is on­go­ing with SFRS, the Bri­tish au­to­matic fire sprin­kler as­so­ci­a­tion and Scot­tish Water re­gard­ing the most ap­pro­pri­ate spec­i­fi­ca­tion, tak­ing ac­count of best prac­tice; com­ple­tion will en­hance ten­ants’ safety, se­cu­rity and well­be­ing.”

Mean­while, the same hous­ing re­port also out­lines which blocks will be in­cluded in the open­ing phase of con­sul­ta­tion on its plans – an­nounced in De­cem­ber – to de­mol­ish and re­place all 48 tower blocks in the au­thor­ity area over the next two decades.

Res­i­dents at Dun­beth Court, High Coats and Jack­son Court in Coat­bridge are among those to be con­sulted in the first part of the project – along with those at the Camp­sie, Che­viot, Etive, Et­trick, Fin­try, Killin, Ne­vis, Pent­land, Sid­law, Striven and Tinto flats in Shaw­head.

Air­drie’s tower blocks in Hole­hills – Che­viot, Mer­rick and Pent­land Courts – are also part of phase one along with the flats at the town’s North­burn Place.

The blocks con­cerned have been cho­sen to be in the first phase of con­su­la­tion af­ter con­sid­er­ing “a num­ber of fac­tors in­clud­ing wait­ing list de­mand, stock turnover and in­vest­ment re­quire­ments”; and res­i­dents will be in­vited to meet­ings and open days, as well as re­ceiv­ing sur­veys and news­let­ters.

The re­port for coun­cil­lors con­firms: “Re-pro­vi­sion­ing [is] a long-term strat­egy; the coun­cil will con­tinue to carry out the in­vest­ment nec­es­sary to en­sure its tow­ers re­main safe, se­cure and at­trac­tive places to live.”

Planned re­fur­bish­ment in­clud­ing re­place­ment cladding will still go ahead at Blair­grove, Glen, Mer­ryston and Mill­brae Courts in Coat­bridge.

Early plans to de­velop com­mon ar­eas at Mil­ton Court in Air­drie – des­ig­nated for older peo­ple – will be put on hold “to await the out­come of the con­sul­ta­tion re­gard­ing fu­ture re-pro­vi­sion­ing be­fore ac­tions are pro­gressed”; but the re­port adds: “All nor­mal planned in­vest­ment and rou­tine works will con­tinue”.

Mr Mur­ray added of the con­sul­ta­tion: “This is part of an am­bi­tious plan to pro­vide bet­ter homes, re­gen­er­ate town cen­tres and cre­ate jobs; it is sep­a­rate to our plan to in­crease fire safety in the short term.”

This is part of an am­bi­tious plan to pro­vide bet­ter homes

Des Mur­ray

Bor­rowed time Tower blocks, such as these ones at Thrash­bush, will be de­mol­ished over the next two decades

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