Welsh government to support high rise sprinkler retrofitting

3 April 2019

The assembly stated that it will ‘promote’ sprinkler retrofitting in high rise buildings, after it published a ‘roadmap’ for improving high rise fire safety.

South Wales Argus reported on the decision announced by housing and local government minister Julie James, after the government’s expert group on building safety published its ‘roadmap’ to improving high rise fire safety. While other recommendations in that report ‘will be responded to’ by the government ‘in due course’, Ms James confirmed that she would accept the recommendation to promote sprinkler retrofitting, with a full response to be published in May.
 
She commented: ‘The Welsh Government is fully committed to making people safer in their homes. We have a strong record in doing just that. Since responsibility for fire was devolved in 2005, the number of fires in dwellings has fallen further and faster in Wales than anywhere else in the UK. That said, we cannot and will not be complacent. Much evidence has emerged following the tragic fire and failings at Grenfell Tower.
 
‘In response to this, the Welsh Government established an expert group last year. It has played a key role in recommending a way forward and I am pleased to publish its roadmap for improving fire safety in high-rise buildings this week. I would like thank the group for their time and their lively and careful consideration of a wide range of difficult issues.
 
‘I will reflect on the group’s recommendations, but one recommendation I will accept here and now is that we promote the retro-fitting of sprinklers. Hard evidence supports sprinklers’ effectiveness in preventing fatalities so I am committed to looking at how we can further promote retro-fitting in high-rise buildings across sectors.’
 
Ms Jones added: ‘We will continue to build on our strong record. Where possible and appropriate, we will take forward immediate or short-term actions, but some issues will require more in-depth analysis and consideration. In certain cases, that will require and lead to legislative change. Inevitably and properly, this will and absolutely should take time. It’s essential we get it right to ensure we keep our residents safe in their homes.’
 
Earlier this year, the government said it was considering making third party certification for installation and commissioning of sprinklers compulsory, and that it would aim to ‘radically reform or replace’ the Welsh version of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.