Domestic Fire Sprinklers Installed In High Risk Homes
Council authorities generally keep a close eye on homes that are at risk of fire, especially where housing estates are concerned with people living close to one another. A lot of homes put up in the 1970s on these estates did not have the same level of safety that is expected and put in place in today’s homes.
This isn’t just down to having domestic fire sprinklers in place but a lot of homes are not equipped with fire-rated board insulation and are made of timber inside and outside cladding.
Here at RAD, we have worked with property developers Galliard Homes to install retrospective sprinklers in high-rise buildings.
Last month, a building inspector criticised safety failings on an Essex housing estate which had been hit by 10 fires within the last 10 years. The most recent fire to hit the Felmore estate in Basildon resulted in two women being rescued.
“In recent years, there have been a number of fires in timber-framed buildings on the estate. Fire crews said the flat was “100 per cent alight” when they arrived at the scene this afternoon.
They added it had spread to other properties.
Crews rescued two women from the flats both of whom have been left in the care of the ambulance service.
A 25-year-old woman suffered the effects of smoke inhalation. ”
John Harris, Essex Fire and Rescue Service assistant divisions officer, said: “Crews did a magnificent job in preventing the spread of fire – with the construction of the flats and the location of the flat where the fire started at the corner of the block, their prompt action undoubtedly went a long way in preventing more damage.
“As it is three properties are uninhabitable tonight – the fire flat and neighbouring properties on either side. Beyond that two more flats have suffered some smoke damage.”
Basildon Council said that it will put in place replacement cladding on the housing estate and it has a “75 – minute fire resistance”, but now concerns are being raised that this cladding has no real safety improvement.
Mr Tarling (fire safety expert) said the cladding “provides no known fire protection”.
He added it was “no more than a rain screen” and would “act as a chimney encouraging the fire to spread upwards”.“It would have been far better to have removed the cladding and asbestos cement panels, fixed an external quality fire rated board, insulated with a mineral wool and then rendered on mesh,” he said.
One fire in 2009 on the 1970s estate – a mix council and private housing – destroyed eight properties and saw 90 people evacuated from their homes.
Most of the flats and houses are timber framed – which means inside construction and external cladding are all made from wood.
After a fire in April 2012 which left eight families temporarily homeless, the residents started a petition calling for further safety improvements.
An investigation has begun into the cause of a fire which badly damaged three houses on an estate in Essex.Some people who live on the Felmores estate in Basildon believe the timber-framed homes are dangerous and have started a petition calling for safety improvements.
Domestic Fire Sprinklers Installation
A £250,000 fire authority-funded project has been put in place in Essex and properties that will most likely benefit from the scheme are those mentioned above such as the Felmore estate in Basildon.
The authority said where domestic fire sprinklers are introduced, injuries and property damage will be reduced by 80% and Essex assistant chief fire officer Paul Hill said the scheme would ultimately save lives.
Other types of housing that will benefit from the scheme which will see domestic fire sprinklers put in place will include high-rise premises, vulnerable adults or children and where existing problems have been voiced in achieving fire safety.
Mr Hill said: “Fire deaths have almost been eliminated in buildings that have a domestic sprinkler system fitted and maintained properly… so they are hugely effective.”He added that fire services have been lobbying for domestic fire sprinklers to be fitted in all new homes in England, which already happens in Wales.
The authority estimates that the average cost of retro-fitting a typical house would be £2,500.
Mr Hill added: “A recent project at Callow Mount Flats, Sheffield to retro-fit 47 flats had a final cost of £1,100 each – so the cost isn’t inhibitive, I think, not when a life is at stake.”
The following news footage explains the recent new law on fire sprinkler installation in Welsh homes.
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