A year after Grenfell – Wythenshawe tower block residents still waiting for sprinklers
A year after the Grenfell fire, resulting in the deaths of 72 people, sprinkler systems have still not been fitted to Wythenshawe’s high rise tower blocks.
Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, which runs the town’s 10 high rises said in December it would be installing sprinklers in the tallest block early this year.
The fitting of the sprinklers was approved by the Group’s board, but in a statement made this week it said sprinklers won’t be fitted before they have finished installing fire alarms, due to be completed in the autumn this year.
The WCHG statement in full:
Wythenshawe Community Housing Group remain committed to ensuring safety in high rise buildings and continue to work closely with GMFRS, MCC and other Registered Providers to ensure a consistent robust approach to fire safety in tower blocks. The Group owns and manages 10 high rise buildings in Wythenshawe and none contain ACM panels. Village 135 did have feature ACM detail to the projecting balconies, these panels were removed immediately and replaced with compliant solid metal cladding. We have worked closely with our residents in all of our high rise buildings which have had annual Fire Risk Assessments completed by an accredited consultant.
Since June 2017, we have repeated and reviewed in detail our approach to fire safety with our Fire Safety consultants to identify any further improvements that can be made to each block. Based on these findings further enhancements have been approved by the Group Board for the installation of sprinklers and full fire alarm systems to the traditional high rise buildings. We have prioritised fire alarm installations to meet FRA recommendations and a number of them have already being installed, with the remainder being completed by Autumn 2018. The fitting of sprinkler systems will follow the installation of the fire alarms.
Today marks the first anniversary of the fire in Grenfell Tower in North Kensington in which 72 people lost their lives. The inquiry into the disaster has heard how combustible material in external cladding fitted to the building was the primary cause of the fire’s spread.
And a report published by the London Assembly, taking evidence from fire safety experts recommended that all residential buildings should be fitted with sprinklers to save lives.
The report said sprinklers should be required by law in new care homes, sheltered housing and blocks of flats higher than six storeys, and the measures should be the first steps on a “road map” towards making sprinklers mandatory in all homes in England.
Solidarity events are taking place across the country this week to remember the victims of the Grenfell tragedy, including a candle-lit vigil in Salford at 6.30pm tonight, organised by the local Trades Union Council.