Grenfell fire chief calls for sprinklers in tower blocks

London’s fire commissioner says the Grenfell Tower blaze must be a “turning point”, calling for sprinklers in all high-rise council flats.

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Only 2% of the UK’s council and housing association-owned tower blocks have full sprinkler systems, a BBC investigation has found.

Of those, 68% have just one staircase through which to evacuate.

A public inquiry will look at the causes of the fire, the adequacy of high-rise regulations, Grenfell Tower’s refurbishment, and the actions of public authorities before and after the blaze.

The inquiry will hold its first hearing on Thursday, with an initial report due by Easter.

The Department for Communities and Local Government says it will consider whether to retrofit sprinklers based on the inquiry’s recommendations.

In 2007, sprinklers were made compulsory in new-build high rises over 30 meters tall in England.

In Wales, all new homes built from 2016 now have to be fitted with sprinkler systems.

Scotland also has stronger regulation than England, with new residential buildings taller than 18m requiring sprinklers.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The results from the BBC investigation should be a source of concern to us all.

“The Grenfell public inquiry must report as soon as possible so that action can be taken.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Public safety is paramount.

“Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the government established a comprehensive building safety programme to ensure a fire like this can never happen again.

“This included commissioning an independent review of building regulations and fire safety. We will consider this issue in light of the recommendations of this review and the findings of the Public Inquiry.”

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