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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
January 30, 2018

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Fire safety

Review calls for sprinklers in Northern Ireland tower blocks

An independent review has recommended fire sprinklers be installed in tower blocks owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The review, which was chaired by Professor Alastair Adair from Ulster University, said the Executive, which has 33 tower blocks in the province consider installing sprinklers in all its high-rise accommodation.

It also commended the Executive for the “proactive manner” in which it carried out full-scale tests on cladding and other safety assessments following the fire in London last June.

Inter-agency approach

It also said the carried out by the Executive highlighted the benefits of an “inter-agency collaborative approach” to review cladding and safety systems and to ultimately ensure they are fit for purpose.

But the report also warns that “significant challenges lie ahead” and in an environment of on-going public sector cuts and states “there cannot be any compromise or shortcuts taken in fire safety provision in high-rise residential buildings”.

The review was commissioned by the Executive in June to first review the cladding systems that were installed on four of its tower blocks.

It was later extended to look at all aspects of fire safety in all 33 of the Executive’s tower blocks.

Download: A technical guide to sprinkler systems

Not include ACM

In its final report, the review said two cladding systems used in the original four tower blocks did not include the aluminium composite material (ACM), which was used in Grenfell Tower.

It stated both cladding systems have been subject to full-scale tests and were found to comply with building regulations.

Inspections and fire risk assessments across all the Executive’s 33 tower blocks also identified several areas of “remedial work”.

Remedial work

The report recommends this remedial work be completed as soon as possible.

“Whilst it is never possible to give 100% assurance on the safety of any building, the group has been reassured that the work carried out prior and subsequent to the Grenfell fire, has put residents’ safety first,” said Professor Adair.

“We are also confident that remedial measures and enhancements which the Housing Executive plans to do, will provide extra reassurance to residents and others regarding fire safety in all tower blocks.

“The independent reference group commends the Housing Executive and representatives of the contributing statutory agencies for the priority they attached to fire safety,” added the Professor.

“This was evidenced in the proactive manner in which the agencies reviewed the cladding systems and the details of the full-scale fire tests, undertaken at an early stage of design development, to provide assurance on fire safety.”

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Samuel Irwin
Samuel Irwin
6 years ago

I don’s agree. I have a place in a 14th floor apartment in a tower block and I don’t want sprinklers in my apartment. What is really needed is a fire blanket in each kitchen and a small fire extinguisher (preferably Co2 and not powder.) I have both. The recent fire in Grenfell came from a domestic incident which had been badly handled by the fire service (from what I have gleaned,) as the heat source traveled to within the fabric of the building. If like me who has attended multi welds in industry, then there is normally at least… Read more »