Call for sprinkler systems to be installed in all new build domestic properties

A HARD-HITTING campaign has been launched for sprinkler systems to be introduced in all new build homes to protect residents from the risk of dying during fires.

Councillor Phil Scott, who represents Hastings on the East Sussex Fire Authority, says it is time the Government took urgent action before another life is unnecesarrily lost.

It comes days after the inquest of Jim Baldwin who died in a flat fire in St Margaret’s Road in December 2011.

Bohemia Road Fire Station manager George O’Reilly is convinced his life would’ve been saved if a sprinkler system had been installed in the building.

Last month, the Welsh Assembly became the first in the UK to make sprinklers compulsory in new and converted residential properties.

It is estimated it will save 36 lives and prevent 800 injuries between 2013 and 2022.

In Scottsdale, Arizona all new builds from 1986 were fitted with sprinklers. Statistics showed 13 lives were saved from fires in homes with sprinklers while 13 people died in homes without the system.

Mr O’Reilly said: “You just have to look at the Scottsdale project to see the statistics. The evidence is overwhelming. This could be the biggest development in fire safety since the smoke alarm was introduced. I am convinced in situations like Mr Baldwin’s he would have got out alive if the building had sprinklers.”

Richard Fowler, head of business safety at ESFRS, said: “We back this campaign as will every fire service in the land. Fire damage to buildings and property costs billions of pounds each year in this country. In Sheffield the council installed sprinklers in a tower block to prove it could be done. It is practical and it’s cheaper in the long run because everytime there is a fire it’s a costly expense.”

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association spent £55,000 on the Sheffield project and six other authorities have followed suit.

Association spokesman Stewart Kidd said: “The Government said it was not cost effective but we proved them wrong.”

Cllr Scott has launched a petition which he aims to take to the Government. He said: “If the Welsh Assembly can do it then there is no reason why England should not. Sprinklers save lives and for the sake of a few hundred pounds would many house buyers really question the difference?”