STOCKTON HIGH RISES: More sprinkler systems installed
MORE sprinkler systems have been installed in high rise buildings across Stockton amid calls for the planning system to do more.
A probe into tower block fire safety was launched in Stockton in 2017 following the Grenfell Tower fire which claimed 72 lives.
It saw Stockton councillors call for all high rise residential blocks in the borough to have sprinkler and misting systems installed.
The latest place select committee heard Prior Court, in Billingham, and Nolan and Hume House, in Stockton town centre, had now seen sprinklers installed.
But there were also pleas for developers and the planning system to do more to ensure more fire safety measures were taken before new developments came.
Ray Sullivan, building control manager at Stockton Council, told the panel how social housing giant Thirteen had taken action on the back of the committee’s probe.
He also said Dawson House, in Billingham, was being considered for sprinklers but work to install them had not yet started.
Thirteen has spent £5.7m on a project to install sprinkler systems – covering 500 flats across five high-rise tower blocks.
A new mechanical smoke ventilation system and sprinklers have been put in at Billingham’s Kennedy Gardens as well as Hume and Nolan House.
A new heat activated sprinkler system is also in place at Prior Court.
Not all high-rise blocks in Stockton have sprinkler systems and current legislation doesn’t deem them mandatory.
Members of the place select committee have been keen to see the measures put in place for years now.
Explosions aside, there have never been multiple deaths in a building fully covered by sprinkler systems in the UK
Thornaby independent Cllr Luke Frost and Fairfield councillor Bill Woodhead wanted to see more sprinklers lined up in buildings at the planning stage before buildings were granted permission.
Cllr Woodhead said: “I was preaching this years ago and when they built those new bungalows at Ragworth.
“I was instrumental in getting sprinkler systems fitted in there – that’s the only way we’re going to solve this problem.
“Some of the responsibility rests with the residents as well.”
He added: “It should be written in when an application is made that sprinklers should be part of that planning application.
“That’s been moved time and time again through this council.
“But it seems to fall on stony ground.
“What we can do, I do not know.”
Chairman Cllr Chris Barlow said the council was limited in what it could ask for – and whether developers would listen.
Members are also continuing to monitor the outcome of the ongoing Grenfell Tower Inquiry – which is expected to result in legislation changes in the coming years.
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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