Cotton calls for sprinklers in high-rise buildings and schools

London fire chief says sprinklers represent about 1% of the total build cost if incorporated from design stage

Grenfell Tower

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has called for sprinklers to be fitted in all high-rise buildings and schools after the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The inquest into the fire that claimed around 80 lives began on 14 September, and a parallel independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety is also up and running.

‘While we are not pre-empting the findings of the inquiry, now is the time to remind the government of life-saving recommendations we have been making for years,’ said Cotton. ‘We are calling for residential tower blocks to be retrofitted with sprinklers, which should also be mandatory in all new school builds and major refurbishments.’

There is also an ‘economic case’ for sprinklers, Cotton said. ‘It costs around £1,500-£2,500 to retrofit a flat, while the cost of refurbishing a one-bedroom flat after a fire is about £77,000.’

She added: ‘For years, builders, developers, local authorities and private housing providers have ignored the clear benefits of sprinklers. If they are incorporated from the design stage, sprinklers are around 1% of the total build cost.’

The government has published the terms of reference for the independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety commissioned after Grenfell, and which is being led by engineer Dame Judith Hackett.

The main priorities will be ‘to develop a more robust regulatory system for the future and provide further assurance to residents that the buildings they live in are safe and remain safe’.