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6 September 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

The government has announced proposals that would see sprinklers installed in new high-rise blocks of flats.


It is consulting on reducing the building height for when sprinklers are required from the current 30 metres (about 10 floors) and above to 18 metres (approximately six floors) or other relevant thresholds.


A new protection board is being set up immediately with the Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council to provide further reassurance to residents of high-risk residential blocks that any risks can be identified and acted upon. 


Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick has made up to £10 million a year of funding available to support the board, which will provide expert, tailored building checks and inspections, if necessary, on all high-risk residential buildings in England by 2021.


The board will operate until a building safety regulator is established to oversee the new regulatory regime for buildings and legislation on a new building safety regime is introduced.


Their work will ensure that building owners are acting on the latest safety advice to keep residents updated, and that interim measures are in place in all buildings with unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.


This work will be informed by current data collection work of local authorities to identify types of cladding on high-rise residential buildings, for which government is providing additional funding of £4 million.


As of 12 September, the government is opening the application process for the £200 million fund to accelerate the pace of the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM from privately owned buildings.


Jenrick said: “Residents’ safety is our utmost priority and we are making vital improvements to ensure buildings are safe. 


“I have listened to concerns on sprinklers from residents and building owners and our proposals are an important step forward in shaping the future building safety standards. The new protection board will make sure that building owners don’t flout the rules, as well as ensuring fire safety risks in other buildings are being addressed.”


The 12-week fire safety consultation on sprinklers and other measures forms part of the first proposed changes to building regulations in England covering fire safety within and around buildings. It also seeks views to introduce an emergency evacuation alert system for use by fire and rescue services, alongside other fire safety measures.