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Government announces sprinkler review for high rise homes

Proposals have been announced by the Government that would ensure more sprinklers in new high rise blocks of flats in England.

It says in a new consultation document that thousands of residents will benefit from safer homes under proposals that would see sprinklers installed in new high rise homes.

The Government is also looking at reducing the building height for when sprinklers are required from the current 30 metres, approximately 10 floors, and above to 18 metres, approximately six floors, or other relevant thresholds.

And 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 are identified and acted upon.

Up to £10 million a year of funding available has been made 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 new 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 building owners are acting on the latest safety advice and keeping 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 an additional £4 million funding.

The application process for the £200 million fund to accelerate the pace of the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM from privately owned buildings will be opened up from 12 September.

‘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,’ said Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick.

‘The new Protection Board will make sure building owners don’t flout the rules, as well as ensuring fire safety risks in other buildings are being addressed,’ he added.

He also said that regarding the £200 million of funding for private building owners to remove unsafe cladding, owners will be required to act. ‘Government funds are available for private building owners to remove and replace unsafe ACM cladding, and let me be clear, inaction will have consequences and I will name and shame those who do not act during the course of the autumn,’ he explained.

‘There is no excuse for further delay and for building owners to fail to take action now would be frankly disgraceful,’ he added.

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.

‘I’m determined to ensure buildings across the country are safe for residents and the opening of our private sector fund and commitment to new building safety legislation is an important step in driving that forward,’ said Building Safety Minister Lord Younger.

‘This Government is acting and I’m calling on all building owners and developers to step up and make any changes needed to ensure their buildings are safe,’ he added.