The Government has finally responded to a coroner’s request for it to consider the ‘immediate and positive consideration’ of legislating to ensure sprinklers are fitted in every home. Coroner Simon Nelson issued his plea in 2015 following the death of a 24-year-old housing association resident. Now, more than two years later, he has received an answer.
Inside Housing prompted the response after making a Freedom of Information Act request.
Encouraging landlords to fit sprinklers
Melanie Dawes, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, wrote: “I am very sorry also that the department did not reply to the report at the time. The department has searched through its records and although the report was received, it would seem that it was not actioned properly through our correspondence management system.”
She added that the department has now “encouraged” social landlords to “consider installing sprinkler systems” in high-rise properties. However, it has never made them compulsory.
Fire safety regulations under review
That could change, though. The Government has made it clear that current fire safety and building regulations need to be reviewed. The review process is currently underway.
John Healey, Shadow Housing Secretary for Labour, told Inside Housing: “Ministers ignored the recommendations on sprinklers from two earlier coroners reports after the fatal fires in Lakanal House and Shirley Towers. It is shocking that for over two years they failed even to reply to this important further coroner’s report, which they seem to have lost within their own department.
“Following the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower, it is shameful that the government still refuses to ensure sprinklers are fitted in tower blocks. Ministers should back fire chiefs’ advice and Labour’s plan to urgently set aside the funds to get this done.”
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