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Fire sprinklers recommended for tower blocks

31 January 2018

Tower blocks in Northern Ireland should be fitted with fire sprinklers, an independent review has recommended.

Conducted in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy last year, it is one of a number of initiatives that have been driven by this.

Chaired by Ulster University's Alastair Adair, the study said all 33 tower blocks owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) in the province should consider the installation of sprinklers.

The NIHE was commended in the report for its prompt action in carrying out tests on cladding and additional safety assessments following the Grenfell fire last June.

These actions had shown the benefits of a collaborative approach from relevant agencies to ensure buildings remain fit for purpose, said the review.

However, with reductions to public sector funds continuing the report warned of major challenges in the future.

It said that no "compromise or shortcuts" should be taken where fire safety is concerned in high-rise buildings.

While a number of instances of remedial repairs were found to be required by inspections of the 33 tower blocks, tests on four had shown that the aluminium composite material used in the Grenfell Tower had not been used in the Northern Ireland buildings.

In addition to the NIHE-commissioned study, an increasing number of others are recommending that sprinklers be installed in a wide range of facilities throughout the UK to reduce the risk of deaths and damage to buildings.

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