Sprinkler review for high-rise homes

Proposals would ensure more sprinklers in new high-rise blocks of flats

Thousands of residents will benefit from safer homes under proposals that would see sprinklers installed in new high-rise blocks of flats, the government announced today (5 September 2019).

The proposals are an important step forward in the government’s commitment to ensuring residents are safe in their homes. 

The government is consulting on reducing the building height for when sprinklers are required from the current 30 metres (approximately 10 floors) and above to 18 metres (approximately 6 floors) or other relevant thresholds.

And a new Protection Board is being set-up immediately with the Home Office and National Fire Chiefs Council to provide further reassurance to residents of high-risk residential blocks that any risks are identified and acted upon. 

The Communities Secretary has made up to £10 million a year of funding available to support the Board who will provide expert, tailored building checks and inspections, if necessary, on all high-risk residential buildings in England by 2021.

The Board will operate until a new building safety regulator is established to oversee the new regulatory regime for buildings and legislation on a new building safety regime is introduced.

Their work will ensure building owners are acting on the latest safety advice and keeping residents updated and that interim measures are in place in all buildings with unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.

This work will be informed by current data collection work of local authorities to identify types of cladding on high-rise residential buildings, for which government is providing an additional £4 million funding.

As of 12 September, the government is opening the application process for the £200 million fund to accelerate the pace of the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM from privately-owned buildings.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

"Residents’ safety is our utmost priority and we are making vital improvements to ensure buildings are safe.

"I have listened to concerns on sprinklers from residents and building owners and our proposals are an important step forward in shaping the future building safety standards.

"The new Protection Board will make sure building owners don’t flout the rules, as well as ensuring fire safety risks in other buildings are being addressed."

Speaking on the £200 million of funding for private building owners to remove unsafe cladding the Secretary of State said:

"Government funds are available for private building owners to remove and replace unsafe ACM cladding, and let me be clear, inaction will have consequences and I will name and shame those who do not act during the course of the autumn.

"There is no excuse for further delay – and for building owners to fail to take action now would be frankly disgraceful."

The 12-week fire safety consultation on sprinklers and other measures forms part of the first proposed changes to building regulations in England covering fire safety within and around buildings.

It also seeks views to introduce an emergency evacuation alert system for use by fire and rescue services, alongside other fire safety measures.

Building Safety Minister Lord Younger said:

"I’m determined to ensure buildings across the country are safe for residents and the opening of our private sector fund and commitment to new building safety legislation is an important step in driving that forward.

"This government is acting and I’m calling on all building owners and developers to step up and make any changes needed to ensure their buildings are safe."

Approved Document B consultation

In December 2018, the government issued a call for evidence on the technical review of Approved Document B of the building regulations. A summary of the responses to the call for evidence has been published alongside this consultation.

See details of the consultation

This consultation will run from 5 September 2019 to 28 November 2019.

You may respond by completing an online survey.

Alternatively, you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to ADBconsultation@communities.gov.uk.

Written responses should be sent to:

Building Safety Programme
Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government
4th Floor
Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF