Only 4% of tower blocks are fitted with sprinklers
IT is 18 months since the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people, and still only 4% of London’s high-rise council tower blocks have sprinklers fitted, according to research by the Labour Party.
In addition to the “unsafe” cladding which has been blamed for increasing the speed of the fire, the lack of sprinklers is also believed to have worsened conditions inside the tower.
An investigation by the Labour Party has found that 18 months after one of the most devastating fires in the capital n living memory, 96% of council tower blocks still have no sprinklers.
The political party highlights the lack of action on sprinklers in council tower blocks in light of Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise after the fire to “do whatever it takes to…keep our people safe”.
However, not a single request from councils for funding to retrofit sprinklers into their tower blocks has been accepted by the government, according to the findings.
The research has been published 12 months after Labour set out its postGrenfell fire safety and building standards policy in a town hall less than a mile from the charred skeleton of the tower.
At present, more than 800 tower blocks in London do not have sprinklers, despite high profile support from the National Fire Chiefs Council, London Fire Brigade Commissioner and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.
Labour also points to the £4 billion in cuts to local government since 2010, and no funding to fit new sprinklers.
Sarah Jones MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: “Councils and social housing tenants have been betrayed by this government, who promised to do whatever it took after Grenfell to make tower blocks safe, and has since backtracked.
“It’s simply contradictory for ministers to say that sprinklers aren’t essential in older buildings while requiring them for new buildings. It creates a two-tier system which disproportionately impacts social housing tenants.
“Why should certain people be entitled to safer housing than others?
“Sprinklers are just one part of the fire safety mix, but they are proven to work. That’s why Labour is calling for a Government Fire Safety Fund to help councils with sprinklers and other important fire safety work.”
The research was carried out by Labour through Freedom of Information Requests from 29 of London’s 33 boroughs.
The research showed there are more than 800 council tower blocks, but just 32 have sprinklers fitted.
Separate research from Inside Housing this month showed that one in 10 sprinkler systems fitted into social housing since 2010 has been successful in putting out a fire.