Fire safety expert calls for sprinkler system law
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Health and also in Housing, Regulation
An independent fire safety expert has predicted that a combination of a new sprinkler law and an increased focus on enforcement could cut fire deaths by more than half overnight.
Safety Management UK (SMUK) is campaigning for a change in the law to make it compulsory for all high-rise flats and care homes to install life-saving sprinkler systems.
Former firefighter Brian Gregory, managing director of SMUK, said further action was still needed, following the release of the latest government statistics showing a fall in the number of fire deaths.
This was pulled into sharp focus just last week when landlord Amarjit Singh was fined in excess of £10,000 by Ealing Magistrates' Court for allowing his tenants to live in a house that was unsafe and overcrowded.
The house of multiple occupancy in Southall, west London, had damaged fire doors and no working smoke alarm on the premises.
Mr Gregory said: “This demonstrates the importance of why fire crews should utilise the extra time they now have because emergency call outs are falling to carry out a hard-hitting campaign of enforcement checks to ensure people comply with the regulations."
The latest government figures show there were 140 fire fatalities in England in the six months from April to September 2013 - 33% lower than in the same period of 2003 and lower than any other year apart from 2012 and 2008.
The statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government also show that fire and rescue services attended 102,000 fires between April and September last year – 55% fewer than in the same period of 2002.
Mr Gregory added: “These figures are to be welcomed and they show the great strides that have been made in fire safety, risk assessment and awareness over the past decade.
“But we still have some way to go. We believe now is the time for the Government to act on sprinklers to ensure that we keep driving the number of deaths lower and lower.
“Sprinkler systems are a life-saver. They won’t put a fire out, but they will stop it from spreading. They buy time and for elderly or infirm people that can be vitally important.
“The UK has detailed and stringent regulations with regard to fire alarms and fire separation requirements. We want to see regulations for sprinkler systems added to this.
“That way, the 140 deaths a year we currently have would be cut by more than half virtually overnight.”