Tragedies like the Grenfell Tower Fire are horrendous, and with the enquiry into the causes and events it seems to be too little too late for those who lost everything that lessons and changes will be made. However, it is thought that one of the issues that will be discussed yet again as part of this enquiry will be the mandatory installation of sprinklers in residential accommodation.
In Scotland, sprinklers are required by regulation in all high rise residential buildings, this is any building over 18m in height which equates to between 6 and 7 storeys. Despite this, the Scottish Government has launched a further consultation that will explore fire and building safety in order to ensure the protection of all homes, both new-build, privately or socially rented or owner occupied.
Research has shown that approximately three quarters of all fire-related death occur in the home, and the horrendous incident in West London took place at a time where that had been an increase in the numbers of fire-related deaths, by 21% between 2014 and 2015. With a lot of discussion as to why this number of deaths has increased, with suggestions such as an ageing population and possible building budget cuts, one fact in relation to this figure is that fire response times are increasing as well, particularly in the largest cities around the UK.
It is thought that social housing tenants are at a greater risk from fire because a large number of group includes an ageing population. It has been found that the majority of deaths from fire occur among those who are over the age of 65, with these people finding evacuating the building more difficult. It is thought that those with a disability are vulnerable for the same reason.
In 2005 it was stated by the UK Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government that they had research to suggest that installing sprinklers in new homes would not be cost effective, but it would be reasonable to provide them in a building such as a block of flats that stood at more than 30 meters in height as well as in some care homes.
Hopefully, following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, the Government will decide that 1% of the total build cost is in fact cost-effective to make sure such a horrid incident doesn’t happen again.