After Grenfell: urgent social housing action needed to prevent tragedy

Grenfell crop

Plans have been revealed to ensure sprinklers are fitted to all new social housing in Scotland

1st December 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

New legislation which will make sprinklers mandatory in new social housing in light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy has been revealed.

Highland and Islands MSP David Stewart is planning to bring forward a member’s bill in the new year which aims to place a duty on housing associations and local authorities to fit sprinklers in new properties.

A consultation on the proposal will be launched in the coming months and will also consider what action can be taken to retrofit high-rise social housing.

The Labour politician said that action must be taken to help prevent further tragedy.

“The tragic events of the Grenfell disaster have put fire safety to the forefront of many people’s minds,” said Stewart.

“There is a small gap in our legislation that I think can be filled by a common sense proposal that will save lives.

“Fire safety is a significant issue in Scotland and fires are more prevalent in areas of socio-economic deprivation. The scandal of Grenfell was that protection was not available to those who were most in need.”

Stewart added that he had held talks with organisations that will be affected by the legislation – including the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) – and said feedback had been largely positive.

Wales passed legislation in 2011 to make the installation of sprinklers in all new dwellings compulsory.

Every high-rise built in Scotland since 2005 must have sprinklers, by law. But there is no obligation on councils or social landlords to fit the systems in older tower blocks, or other types of property.

The proposals have received the backing of the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) which has said the legislation will enhance fire safety in Scottish communities.

FBU Scottish secretary Denise Christie said: “The Grenfell Tower tragedy is the worse loss of life in a fire in peacetime Britain and we owe it to the victims, victims’ families and residents of Grenfell to do everything we can to avoid any future tragedies.

“The government needs to listen to firefighters if it is going to address clear deficiencies in fire safety standards. This fire safety member's bill is a step in the right direction and we hope every MSP gets behind it and supports.”

SFHA has been asked for comment.