Fire sprinklers are now installed in the first of over 1,250 Croydon tower block flats as a result of the council’s commitment to improve residents’ safety following the Grenfell tragedy.
The council is retrofitting fire sprinklers in its 25 tallest blocks and one sheltered block by next spring, and work has now finished on the first flat at College Green in Upper Norwood. The sprinklers will be fully operational once they have been installed in every flat in the block and connected to new water tanks.
Work begins in the coming weeks on the block’s remaining flats, whose residents have been invited to two coffee mornings where they can view the new sprinklers and talk with the project team.
The council has sent an update letter to all residents in the blocks due to get sprinklers over the coming months, 25 of which are 10, 11 or 12 storeys high, plus the eight-storey sheltered block in Addiscombe.
These blocks will all get the same kind of equipment as in the empty first flat, which now has six sprinklers hidden behind a flat white disc near ceilings. Sprinklers pop out of the disc and spray a fine water mist at a wide angle only when a fire is in that room. This kind of targeted sprinkler reduces the risk of false alarms and water damage, coupled with fire breaks in place that limit spread between neighbouring flats and floors.
Following the council cabinet’s decision in June to invest in the sprinklers, over the summer Croydon wrote twice to the Government requesting help in paying for the project’s estimated £10m costs. The council also requested greater borrowing powers to consider further fire safety improvements in future. No such Government financial assistance has been provided to date.
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, said: “This the first of over 1,250 flats to benefit from a major council investment that will make our tower block residents safer. Although these improvements will impact on long-term council finances, we’ve always said we would deliver them with or without the Government’s help.
“Now we’ve done the first flat we’ll plan ahead to continue these essential works, and we will keep residents informed through letters, the council website and via our wardens and housing staff.”
Residents wanting to know more about the project can view a Frequently Asked Questions page on the council website, and a time-lapse video of the sprinklers being installed, both are available here. For images of the new fire sprinklers click here.