Work is due to start September 24 on installing fire sprinkler systems in all high-rise apartments owned bythe city council – the first project of its kind and scale to get under way in the country.
The work is part of a citywide fire safety improvement programme in high-rise blocks – which has been in development since January 2017 – and will be carried out by the council’s housing maintenance and repairs company, Unitas. It will see sprinklers installed in communal areas and individual apartments in all 16 of the authority’s high-rise blocks. Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) says that the measures mean the council is the first in the country to commit to, start and programme in works to its entire high-rise stock.
The work follows on from a retrofit fire sprinkler installation programme at all seven low-rise apartment blocks in the city, which began in 2014 and included approximately 100 apartments.
The first block of high-rise apartments where the sprinklers will be installed is Seddon Court, in Linfield Road, at the edge of the city centre. Installing the system at this 12-storey block will cost £350,000, and should take approximately 20 weeks to complete.
Councillor Randy Conteh, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “The safety and wellbeing of our residents is always our utmost concern and it’s really positive that this work is now under way, which will benefit tenants in Stoke-on-Trent.
“Our buildings are already compliant with all fire and safety regulations, and we maintain very regular checks to ensure that this remains the case. The additional measure in this planned programme of improvements will further reinforce those safety levels, as we strive to continually raise standards within our housing stock, and have council housing that our city can really be proud of.
“The residents have been kept fully informed about the fire sprinkler system installation programme, and are very much in support of it. We will be installing the system into a vacant apartment available to rent, to give residents the opportunity to see what it looks like prior to it being put into their home. Residents have already been able to view the fire sprinkler materials/pipework, look at photographs of other schemes and meet the people who will be installing the system during an open day last week.
“The work is being carried out by Novus Property Solutions in partnership with B & C Fire Engineering Limited – both Stoke-on-Trent-based companies who employ people who live in the city– which is a fantastic boost for the local economy and workforce. We are looking forward to working with them on this exciting project.”
Seddon Court resident Jessica Murtagh, aged 39, said: “The council and fire service should be commended for the work they are doing to keep people safe. I do feel reassured about the fire sprinkler system programme. Anything we can do to prevent fires and the injuries and tragedy they can cause can only be a positive thing.”
Paul Williams, business development manager at Novus, said: “Novus are pleased to be working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and our supply chain partners within the city to deliver the very highest levels of fire safety to Seddon Court.”
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has been working closely with the city council in the development of its fire safety improvements programme.
Station manager Stuart Ruckledge, community sprinkler project lead, said: “We are extremely pleased to see these sprinkler systems starting to be installed in high-rise buildings in Stoke-on-Trent. Last week we held an event for residents so they could see an installation for themselves and discuss the project with us – it’s great to have their support.
“It is fantastic to see the project, which started three years ago, well ahead of schedule and this is thanks to our partners’ commitment to fire safety. They are keen to work with our support to make sure that residents are as safe from fire as they can be. We are very proud to have such a positive working relationship with our social housing providers like the city council and Unitas.
“Having successfully completed the installation of sprinklers in two buildings in Lichfield last year, we will have 30 residential high-rise buildings in Staffordshire covered by these systems within three years. That’s more than half way to our end goal, which ultimately will improve the safety of our residents and firefighters should they have to attend incidents in these buildings.
“SFRS has been lobbying for changes in fire regulations and is now working with the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to shape those changes and share our experiences. Thankfully in Staffordshire we have already been supporting our social housing providers including the city council and Unitas to improve fire safety and business continuity in their higher risk residential properties.”
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232265.