Grenfell fire: sprinkler system would have cost £200,000

Sprinklers could have been installed at the Grenfell tower block at an estimated cost of £200,000, claims the Fire Sector Federation (FSF).

Fire engulfed the Grenfell tower block in North Kensington, London on June 14, 2017 and has so far claimed 30 lives.

The building had been subject to a £10m refurbishment that saw the bottom four floors remodelled to create nine new homes, plus the addition of rain screen cladding, replacement windows and curtain wall façades. Internally, a new communal heating system and smoke extraction and ventilation system were fitted.

Survivors report being alerted to the fire by neighbours fleeing the building down a single stair case.

FSF, a forum for organisations in the fire and safety sector created to advise and help shape policy on fire-related issues, said that although a fire on such a scale is unprecedented in the UK, there have been a number of similar incidents here and around the world.

The federtion added that it has expressed major concerns about the apparent disjoint in the processes that aim to ensure fire safety within the built environment, as well as concerns about the combustibility of certain modern building materials.

Alan Brinson, a member of the European Fire Sprinkler Network said: “This fire is similar to The Address fire in Dubai on New Year’s Eve 2015. The difference is that building had sprinklers and nobody was killed.”

Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 without sprinklers as regulatory guidance in England has only required sprinklers in high-rise residential buildings since 2007. Although the tower was refurbished in 2014/2015, there was no requirement to fit sprinklers at the same time, which FSF estimate would’ve added about £200,000 to the cost of the project.

Jon O’Neill, managing director of the Fire Protection Association told The Independent that a sprinkler system would have saved lives and ‘created an environment where it would have been easier to rescue people and increase survivability.’