Plans for sprinklers in Stevenage tower blocks after Grenfell review

PUBLISHED: 12:27 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:28 21 September 2018

Firefighters at the Brent Court open day. Picture: Renu Chopra

Firefighters at the Brent Court open day. Picture: Renu Chopra

Archant

Residents in high-rise tower blocks in Stevenage have the opportunity to find out more about fire safety improvements to the buildings in a series of open events, which started yesterday.

Proposed changes came about after the Grenfell Tower disaster in June last year, which saw 72 people lose their lives after a fire broke out in the west London block.

Representatives from Stevenage Borough Council, Herts fire officers and staff from fire safety agencies Pyrolec and AICO were on-hand to talk through improvement plans at Brent Court in Silam Road to install sprinkler systems in each of the council’s seven high-rises in the town.

Jeanette Thomas, the borough council’s executive member for housing, was at the session this morning and said safety of residents was fundemental.

She told the Comet: “We decided we want to put some sprinklers in because the wellbeing of our tenants is fundemental especially after the fire at Harrow Court.

Stevenage red watch firefighter Charlie Holton,  red watch crew comander Dan Collier, assistant chief fire officer for Herts Fire and Rescue Service Gus Cuthbert, and Andy Hall, Stevenage Fire Station commander. Picture: Renu ChopraStevenage red watch firefighter Charlie Holton, red watch crew comander Dan Collier, assistant chief fire officer for Herts Fire and Rescue Service Gus Cuthbert, and Andy Hall, Stevenage Fire Station commander. Picture: Renu Chopra

“We’re pretty certain our buildings are safe as they are, but what we don’t want is any of residents coming in at night and not being able to sleep at night because of concerns over what might happen.

“As soon as Grenfell happened we had people in here knocking on every flat talking to the residents and we’re going to put this in as soon as tenants agree with us and there would be no charge, tenants won’t get charged anyway but leaseholders won’t either because it’s fundamental.

“It’s not a requirement but, after what happened at Grenfell and the London Fire Brigade chief saying fitting sprinklers is the sensible way to go, we should be looking at that.

“I have the feeling that most of our tenants are quite happy because they feel safe. They know what happened in Harrow Court, and they know it was contained in the flat and the flat above. We just want to give them that extra level of safety.

Executive member for housing at Stevenage Borough Council, Jeanette Thomas. Picture: ArchantExecutive member for housing at Stevenage Borough Council, Jeanette Thomas. Picture: Archant

“We’ve been taking advice left, right and centre – the safety of our residents is paramount.”

Sprinklers aren’t a legal requirement in the buildings and part of the session was to help answer queries about them and dispell any myths.

When a plan is agreed after consulting with residents, it should take 18 months to get them installed in all seven buildings.

Stevenage Fire Station commander Andy Hall said: “It is really important for us to be at events like this and talk to residents, just making sure they understand what the sprinklers can do and how high-rise safety is really important in the event of an emergency.”

Chloe Vickery from AICO. Picture: Renu ChopraChloe Vickery from AICO. Picture: Renu Chopra

Gus Cuthbert, assistant chief fire officer for Herts Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We want to provide reassurance to residents to tell them about the benefits of having these sprinklers and how they could save their lives.

“Fire services nationally and locally have been promoting installation of spirinklers of a number of years.

“This is one of the first developments to be installing sprinklers in high-rises in the county, so it’s really important that we’re hear to promote that – not only to the public but to the rest of the county, to show that Stevenage is leading the way.”

There are sessions tomorrow from 10am until 3pm and Tuesday next week from 10am until 7pm.

If you have any queries email firesafety@stevenage.gov.uk.

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