Call for sprinklers in Hull's high-rise flats
A SENIOR fire officer has called for sprinklers to be introduced into high-rise flats in Hull.
Assistant chief fire officer Chris Blacksell said the sprinklers would make tower blocks safer for firefighters and occupants.
At a Humberside Fire Authority meeting yesterday, he said: "We've been trying very hard for some time to encourage local authorities to retrofit sprinklers or install sprinklers in new- builds."
There has been growing concern over the safety of tall buildings after two firefighters were killed battling a blaze in Southampton.
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Following an inquest into the deaths of Jim Shears and Alan Bannon inside the 15-storey block, coroner Keith Wiseman said buildings more than 30m tall should be fitted with sprinklers.
Fire authority member David Gemmell supported the move.
The Hull councillor said: "I think it's absolutely crucial.
"Sprinklers save lives and if you can install them at the first stage when you're building it really is something we should be pushing.
"If the building is already there, we should be pushing owners to retrospectively install them."
He believes the fire authority has a duty to protect its employees and make their work as safe as possible.
Councillor Gemmell said: "From a fire authority view, we're an employer and we should be looking after our employees.
"If you're asking your employees to go into dangerous places, you should be making it as safe as possible for them.
"There's some talk about making sprinklers compulsory for buildings over 30m and I would support that."
Councillor Rosie Nicola is a member of both the fire authority and Hull's planning committee. She is going to raise the issue at the committee's next meeting.
Its chairman, Councillor Sean Chaytor, said he would be pleased to discuss ways he could help.
He said: "As it stands, there's no policy, but if somebody was minded to bring this up we would be more than happy to look at it.
"Of course we want to make communities safer.
"Having spoken to Cllr Nicola, I would be more than delighted to look at this to see what we can do for the protection of the public."
The inquest into the deaths of Mr Shears and Mr Bannon, who lost their lives in 2010, ended with a verdict of death by misadventure.
But a coroner's report released earlier this month said: "Social housing providers should be encouraged to consider the retro-fitting of sprinklers in all existing high-rise buildings in excess of 30m in height, particularly those identified by fire and rescue services as having complex designs that make firefighting more hazardous and/or difficult."