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All residential care homes should be fitted with sprinklers to reduce the number of fires, says London Fire Brigade (LFB) in the heart of Fire Sprinkler Week (16-22 March).
New figures just released show that there were 530 fires in care homes and sheltered accommodation in London in 2014, causing four deaths and 30 injuries – stark statistics that prove the need for sprinklers to be installed to protect vulnerable people, says the Brigade.
Neil Orbell, LFB’s Head of Fire Safety, said: "Older people, as well as people with mental health problems and those with mobility issues, are the group most at risk from fire and we are concerned by the number of vulnerable people like this who are still harmed or killed by fire in places where they should be safe.
"That's why we want to see all residential care homes fitted with sprinklers. The number and regularity of care home fires that the Brigade attendsis clear evidence that builders, developers, local authorities and private providers need to stop ignoring their benefits.
"We believe that sprinklers are a potentially life saving tool that can be effective in stopping fires from spreading and putting them out quickly.
"By doing this they can also help reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries from fire, particularly in buildings occupied by people with reduced mobility. They also reduce the risks to firefighters."
The Brigade wants the same level of protection in the capital as in Scotland where there is already a requirement within Building Standards for all new build residential care buildings to have sprinkler systems installed.
Its Fifth London Safety Plan, which sets out how the Brigade will work up to 2016, includes a target to reduce fires in care homes and sheltered housing by 3% by March next year.
It also includes a commitment to campaign and promote opportunities for councils and housing providers to provide sprinklers as a cost effective way of saving property and protecting the lives of residents most at risk from fire.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.
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