A new briefing issued by the LGA calls on ministers to ensure that automatic fire suppression systems (AFSS) are installed in new buildings where vulnerable people sleep. It also calls on the Government to lower its threshold on the height of new buildings where AFSS systems, such as sprinklers are mandatory, from 30 metres down to 18 metres high.
“Not only are these measures proven to be more effective in enhancing building safety but introducing them would provide reassurance to residents who are concerned about their safety,” the briefing stated. The LGA has also called on the Government to help “any council experiencing financial difficulty” after removing and replacing flammable housing on any of its tower blocks.
It warned that more than half of the fire and rescue services in England and Wales have experienced “significant increases” in the amount of prevention and protection work following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. “These checks have had to be carried out in the context of reductions to the fire service workforce, as well as funding reductions for both local authorities and fire and rescue authorities,” the report stated. “We are concerned that this approach to ensuring people’s safety is not sustainable.”
Earlier this month, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) called for two staircases to be built in all new tower blocks, after warning current safety guidance is “deeply flawed.” In its response to the Government’s technical consultation on Approved Document B, RIBA called for at least two staircases in new residential buildings, where the top floor is more than 11m above ground level or more than three storeys high.
“We simply cannot allow buildings to continue to be built to regulations and guidance that everyone, including the government, acknowledges are deeply flawed,” said the Chair of RIBA’s Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, Jane Duncan.