This week we saw the moving memorial to mark six months from the date of the awful Grenfell tower tragedy – this was a day to remember those lost but keep in mind how we’re going to stop this from happening again.
The public inquiry into the Grenfell tower is currently being carried out, chaired by judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick the aim of the inquiry is ‘to establish the facts of what happened in order to take the necessary action to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again’.
A big issue for discussion is the use of sprinklers in tower blocks. As it stands at the moment research shows just 2% of the UKs 2000 tower blocks are fitted with a comprehensive sprinkler system.
To make matters worse, over 60% of those buildings have just one staircase, ie just one means of escape in a fire emergency.
The law at the moment says blocks above 100ft in height must have a full sprinkler system installed, but this requirement came in 2007 and was is not retrospectively enforceable. This means that it’s not compulsory for any tower blocks with construction prior to 2007 to have a sprinkler system of any kind.
Considering that the vast majority of tower blocks were built well before 2007, it’s easy to see why so many are without a sprinkler system.
Many, including London’s Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton are campaigning to change UK law so that sprinkler systems must be fitted to buildings of this type of all ages.
She recently said “I’m staggered we don’t have sprinklers in domestic premises and schools, they save lives. They keep people safe, as well as putting the fire out.”
It will likely be around Easter of 2018 before we hear any results from the Grenfell inquiry and then likely at least 6 – 12 months after that before any legislation change is enforced, but we all hope that the results of the inquiry push forward changes that do make people safer.