Sheffield City Council has joined with other local authorities in calling on the Government to fund the retro-fitting of sprinklers in thousands of high-rise tower blocks across the country.
Last week Sheffield Labour Councillor Jim Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, joined with leading representatives from local authorities across the country in delivering a letter to Downing Street making the case for emergency funding from government in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.
The letter, signed by Sheffield and 14 other local authorities, calls on Government to fund the installation of sprinklers into all council and housing association-owned residential buildings above 18 metres.
Since the Grenfell tragedy, the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, National Fire Chiefs Council, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Fire Brigades Union, the Association of British Insurers, the Fire Protection Association, London Fire Brigade and the Fire Sector Federation have all called for the retrofitting of sprinklers.
However, despite this growing support, the Government has so far made no funding available for the retrofitting of sprinklers.
Councillor Jim Steinke commented: “Following the horror of the Grenfell Tower disaster, we acted quickly to move forward plans to install sprinkler systems in all council owned tower blocks. I firmly believe this was the right thing to do, and we made this commitment using our own funds, not sure whether we would secure government funding.
“We have been listening to the concerns of tenants and we know that feeling safe in your home is their number one priority. The government has agreed with the Hackitt report on the need for sprinkler systems yet once again they are making increasingly stretched local authorities pay for this.
“The government might not value tenant safety but we do – we are making over £400 million in improvements to council homes over the next five years, including significant fire safety measures.
“We are committed to ensuring that all council owned tower blocks in Sheffield are fitted with sprinklers, but we feel it is only right that government pays for this”.
Sheffield is working with local authorities across the country, and of differing political parties, in calling for this. The co-signed letter asks government to fund the installation of sprinklers into all council and housing association-owned residential buildings above 18 metres. The latest request for funding follows the recommendation from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee in June last year – chaired by Labour and Sheffield MP Clive Betts.