Fire safety in London’s new build homes

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London Assembly wants Building Regulations to require sprinkler systems in all new residential buildings over 18 metres (6 storeys) high, new care homes and sheltered housing. 

Smoke alarms are not enough, which is what the Grenfell Tower tragedy clearly proved. The sprinklers should also be retrofitted in every existing tall building, care home and sheltered housing block during refurbishment work, says the new report Never Again: Sprinklers as the next step in fire safety’.

In England it is currently compulsory to install Automatic Fire Suppression Systems AFSS in new residential blocks over 30m high and uncompartmented areas of shops or self storage buildings with an open plan area over 2,000m2.

How many new London developments come with AFSS?

London developers are now realising this is something that buyers are willing to pay for.

Berkeley Group are installing sprinklers in selected three and four storey town houses, as well as in some apartments at Kidbrooke Village. This allows an open plan and flexible layout than would otherwise not be possible without sprinklers (the need for fire doors, walls and further compartmentation is removed).

Sprinklers offer improved marketability and give occupiers confidence about the fire safety of the building, says Berkeley. The sprinklers are almost invisible, hidden behind plain plastic plates that drop off in the event of a fire.

Some of the new London developments with AFSS include:
Royal Arsenal Riverside by Berkeley – domestic sprinklers and wet/dry risers value £1,080k installed by UK Sprinklers
Embassy Gardens by Ballymore – sprinkler/wet & dry risers in 10 blocks apartment building up to 18 storey apartment building, value £554k installed by UK Sprinklers
Nine Elms Point by Barratt – 32 storey apartment buildings Domestic Sprinklers & Wet Risers value £950k installed by UK Sprinklers
City Island by Ballymore – installed by Triangle Fire Systems
Ram Quarter by Greenland Group – phase 1 3 residential buildings installed by Triangle Fire Systems
The Music Box by Taylor Wimpey installed by Rad Fire Sprinklers

What is the cost of installing AFSS?

In a house, installation costs are around £5000 for a standalone system, which accounts for around 3 per cent of the build cost. Berkeleys Kidbrooke Village uses a tank-fed communal system, saving costs but meaning leaseholders must give access for maintenance.

What are the main technical and planning issues facing the installation of sprinklers in London’s buildings?

Sprinklers generally require a large amount of space, including a central plant room. Berkeley Group noted that the Community Infrastructure Levy is charged on the floor space needed to provide a plant room.

Read more: London Assembly ‘Never Again: Sprinklers as the next step in fire safety’

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