London Fire Brigade

Brigade sprinklers warning as it announces £100K funding competition

29 January 2014

London Fire Chiefs are calling on the capital’s housing providers to install sprinklers to help protect vulnerable residents from fire.

There are more than ten fires each week in London’s care homes and sheltered accommodation and last year two people died and 26 people were injured as a result. London Fire Brigade wants to see housing providers follow the example of Southwark Council which has committed to installing  life saving sprinklers in all its of its sheltered housing schemes and temporary accommodation hostels by 2016.

To help tackle the problem and increase the number of sprinkler systems fitted across the capital, London Fire Brigade has announced it will be launching a  £100k Sprinkler Part  Funding Competition to encourage more housing providers to install this potentially life saving fire safety equipment in buildings lived in by those Londoners most at risk from fire.

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Regulation Steve Turek said: “Sprinklers are a cost effective way of making homes safer - they not only stop fires from spreading and put them out quickly they save lives. We are especially concerned about those people who are most at risk of fire such as those with mobility or mental health problems or people with dementia who may not know how to react, or be able to react quickly enough, if they hear a smoke  alarm.

“It is great news that Southwark Council has  agreed to install sprinkler systems in its existing sheltered housing and hostels and we hope that the match funding competition we have launched today will encourage more local authorities and housing providers to follow its lead.”

During 2012/13  there were 540 fires in care homes and sheltered accommodation. Further figures released by the Brigade today reveal that there is also more than one fire a week in the capital’s hostels. The Brigade firmly believes that installing sprinklers in buildings, like these, which house some of London’s most vulnerable residents, will help further reduce the number of fire related deaths and injuries in the capital.

One of the Brigade’s priorities is to reduce fires in care homes and sheltered housing by three per cent by 2016. It is also committed to campaigning  and promoting opportunities for councils and housing providers to provide sprinklers as a cost effective way of saving property and protecting the lives of those residents most at risk from fire.

London Fire Brigade’s Sprinkler Competition – which is being launched ahead of  National Sprinklers Week – is open to any social  or private housing provider and has a total  funding pot of £100,000. It will part fund those projects which demonstrate the best value and innovation in protecting the most vulnerable people possible from fire.

Information about the competition's terms and conditions and entry forms will be available on the London Fire Brigade website from the beginning of Sprinklers Week on Monday, 3 February.

Ends

Notes to editors:

• The table below shows the number of care home and sheltered accommodation  fires  in London and the resulting fire related injuries and deaths over the last five years

Year                                 Incidents               Fire deaths                       Fire-related injuries
2008/09                               533                           3                                            50
2009/10                               503                           4                                            33
2010/11                               478                           4                                            40
2011/12                               477                           1                                            47
2012/13                               540                           2                                            26

• Figures from the care Quality Commission show there are around 900 care homes for older people or older people and other vulnerable groups in London.

• The cost of fitting sprinklers need not be prohibitive. In Sheffield, the City Council retro-fitted sprinklers in a 38 year-old social housing block . The 47 flats were fitted with sprinklers at a total cost of just over £55,000, at an average cost of just under £1,150 per flat. The combined cost of installation and maintenance of sprinklers came to a cost per flat of £40 per year over 30 years.

• National Sprinklers Week - organised by the Chief Fire Officers Association - runs between 3-7 February and will launch at a reception in Westminster on Wednesday 29 January. It aims to promote the benefits of sprinklers.

• The £100,000  earmarked by the Brigade for the Sprinklers Competition has been allocated from the Fire Prevention Grant it receives from the Government specifically for fire prevention work. London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority members agreed that the money should be allocated to support a competition designed to incentivise local authorities to install sprinklers and to help promote the Authority’s sprinkler strategy.