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Tower block to get sprinklers

Published Tuesday, 18th February 2020

Close up of a Fire Sprinkler By Brandon Leon - Flickr: Day 25: Fire Sprinkler, CC BY-SA 2.0

Council owned tower blocks are set to be fitted with sprinkler systems.

Cabinet councillors will receive a fire safety update at their meeting next week (Cabinet, Tuesday 25 February). They will be asked to agree that one tower block has a sprinkler system installed as part of a pilot project, followed by a full programme of installations across high rise blocks.

It is thought that sprinkler installation would cost around £400,000 for each tower block, but this will be tested through the pilot project.

The report details how South Essex Homes, who manage the council’s housing, have carried out a number of fire safety works including a review of fire doors, floor levelling and the installation of photo-luminescent signage. Ongoing maintenance of fire doors will continue as these are unfortunately damaged and vandalised regularly.

An evacuation alert system will also be installed at Longbow and then rolled out across all tower blocks. The report also confirms that a contractor is being appointed to undertake some type 4 fire risk assessments in one tower block, and these are expected to start in spring 2020.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says: “Fire safety in our council homes is a top priority of this joint administration and I am pleased to recommend that this pilot project takes place, with the intention that a full programme is carried out across council owned tower blocks.

“A full programme will require a large amount of coordination and investment, but I believe that this work is important to both ensure the safety of our residents and provide the high level reassurance they need and deserve.

“The impending appointment of a contractor to do level 4 risk assessment on some council owned homes is also very welcome and I look forward to this work going forwards.”

Fire safety works also continue at other council owned buildings, including fire compartmentation, means of escape, fire information and alarm systems.

Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety and customer contact, says: “Along with the important fire safety work being carried out by South Essex Homes, there is also a substantial amount of work taking place in other buildings we own and that many residents and visitors use and value.

“Work taking place at the Cliffs Pavilion is due to be completed by the end of March, and I am pleased to confirm that in 2020/21, there will be work carried out at the Palace Theatre and museum buildings, Southend Tennis and Leisure Centre, the Civic Centre, branch libraries and Southend Adult Community College.”

The full report is available to view on our website (agenda item 3):