St Leonards man’s petition calling for sprinklers in all high rise flats after Grenfell tragedy

Cllr Phil Scott, Dee Symmonds, Rita Burt and Janet Relf
Cllr Phil Scott, Dee Symmonds, Rita Burt and Janet Relf

A petition has been launched, calling for sprinklers to be installed in all high rise flats following last week’s fire at Grenfell Tower in London.

Ian Ashenden, from St Leonards, set up the online petition because he wants to see new legislation passed.

More than 130 people have so far signed it.

He said: “I have family living in one of the 16-floor high rises in St Leonards and after the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in London, I started the petition calling for the implementation of sprinklers in all high rise residential buildings. The fire at Grenfell Tower was due to the cheaper of several types of ‘insulated cladding’ being flammable, allowing the rapid spread of fire through windows and blocking exits. However clad, sprinklers stop the spread of fire or at least give residents valuable time to escape so I’m petitioning the Government to make sprinklers in residential high rises compulsory.”

The Four Courts in Stonehouse Drive in Hollington each have 16 floors.

Councillor Phil Scott, county councillor for Hollington & Wishing Tree and East Sussex Fire & Rescue Fire Authority Labour group leader, said: “At the Combined Fire Authority meeting in Hove last Thursday I pressed Chief Fire Officer Dawn Whittaker to give an undertaking to review with both Optivo, the Four Courts housing provider and local authorities the evacuation processes currently in place.

“Currently there is what is a quite a controversial ‘stay put’ policy in place but, given the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower, residents clearly need to be reassured the systems and processes in place by Optivo and East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service are both robust enough and is still the best professional advice as relevant today as when introduced many years ago. Public safety continues to be of paramount importance and other measures in place that would support fire safety at the Four Courts would be most welcome.”

The Observer also spoke to several residents from Bevin Court, one of the four high rise flats in Hollington, this week in the wake of Grenfell.

They said they believed proper fire precautions were in place should a fire break out in the block.

Dee Symonds lives on the top floor and said: “Our fire alarms work and are tested every week. The fire service has done everything it can to ensure we’re safe. The cladding on the building is also completely different to that used on Grenfell. Sprinklers should be fitted in tower blocks but it’s finding the money to do so.”

Rita Burt, who lives on the 11th floor, has to have oxygen 24 hoursrs a day because of a lung condition. She said: “The fire precautions in place are very good. I would stay put in my flat if there was a fire because I’m worried if I tried to get down the stairs, I’d slow everyone up, as I can’t walk any distance.”

Janet Relf lives on the third floor and said residents’ alarms were tested every Tuesday afternoon.

To sign Ian’s petition visit www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-save-lives-in-high-rise-flats.

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