Sprinklers should be provided in all new and refurbished flats

Influential building industry bodies have joined forces to demand that sprinklers are made mandatory in all new homes in buildings taller than 11 metres.

The Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of Building said sprinklers should be retrofitted in existing buildings during refurbishment work involving “material alterations”.

They also support the installation of fire suppression systems, including sprinklers, in buildings below 11 metres “on a case-by-case basis of risk”. The three bodies also said the Government should require sprinklers be installed in all hotels, hospitals, student accommodation, schools and care homes. They said they will bring forward their own guidance on sprinklers if the Government fails to change the law. While sprinklers have been legally required in new residential buildings of 10 storeys or higher since 2007 in England, the regulations do not apply retrospectively. In Wales, they are required in all new homes.

In a joint statement, RIBA, RICS and CIOB said:

“As the leading professional bodies in the built environment, we believe further action is required to improve the fire safety of buildings in the UK. Lives, stock and property are saved by the use of automatic fire suppression systems, which includes sprinklers.

“At present, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland differ in their requirements on sprinklers yet the science of fire knows no political or geographical boundaries. Harmonising building regulations across the UK regarding the installation of sprinklers would provide clarity to the industry and help protect the public.”

By Patrick Mooney, Editor