New calls for retrofitting

27 September 2017

A BBC investigation has revealed the full impact sprinkler systems have had on Scottish high rise buildings.

Fifteen people have died and more than 480 have been hurt in high-rise fires in Scotland since 2009.

But the BBC has learned that just one of those casualties was injured in a flat fitted with a sprinkler system.

The findings have led to renewed calls for the fire suppression systems to be retrofitted in older tower blocks.

The Scottish government said Scotland has "stringent building and fire safety regulations" but added that a "thorough and critical review" of those was being carried out in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

The data on sprinklers was obtained from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) in response to a freedom of information request.

It revealed that the number of fires in blocks of more than 10 storeys has fallen from a high of 499 in 2009/10 to 238 last year.

However, 98% of all the high-rise blazes reported to firefighters over the last eight years happened in flats without sprinklers.

Emergency crews have been called to just 56 fires in flats with sprinklers - and just one resulted in a casualty.

In Scotland, every high-rise built since 2005 must be fitted with sprinklers but there is no obligation on councils or social landlords to retrofit the systems.

Graham Simpson, the Scottish Conservatives' housing spokesman, said BBC Scotland's findings showed that policy must change.

"These are startling figures which emphatically show the need for

sprinkler systems to be fitted in all tower blocks," he said.

"There are a number of reasons why fires start and spread and there is more than one way to inhibit the spread of fires, but sprinklers have proved their effectiveness time and time again.

"The fact that all the deaths in tower block fires were in buildings with no sprinklers and the overwhelming majority of casualties were too is evidence of the need to fit them.”

Original source