Regional MSP seeks new law to enforce fire safety on new build homes

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LEGISLATION IS TO BE BROUGHT to the Scottish Parliament by a regional MSP calling for the routine installation of sprinkler systems in all new-build social housing.

The move from Highlands and Moray MSP David Stewart would place a duty on local authorities and Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to install automatic fire suppression systems into all newly constructed social housing.

Prior to the Grenfell disaster, fire injuries and deaths in Scotland have been significantly higher than the rest of the country. In 2015-16, there were 5673 dwelling fires in Scotland, 46% higher per million inhabitants than in England and Wales.

Fires are also more prevalent in areas of socio-economic deprivation. The 2009 Scotland Together Report into Scottish fire deaths and injuries found that 31% of all accidental dwelling fires occurred in the 15% of most deprived areas of Scotland.

Sprinkler systems are highly effective at preventing the spread of fires and limiting the damage they cause. There has been no instance of multiple fire deaths in Scotland where a working sprinkler system was installed.

Mr Stewart’s proposal will begin a consultation period running until April 16 – and will also seek views on what action can be taken to retrofit sprinkler systems into existing high-rise social housing stock.

David Stewart MSP

David Stewart said: “Fire safety is a significant issue in Scotland, and house fires are more prevalent in areas of socio-economic deprivation. The scandal of Grenfell last summer was that protection was not available to those who were most in need.

“That is why I am making this common-sense proposal to ensure all new social housing has a sprinkler system installed. This simple change in law is a practical step that will save lives.

“Councils in Angus, Fife and Dundee already install sprinklers into their new developments as standard and I want to see this approach extended all over Scotland.

“My consultation opens tomorrow for 12 weeks and I would encourage as many members of the public and organisations as possible to respond.”

Keith MacGillivray, Chief Executive of the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Assocaition, said: “The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) are pleased to support the initiative by David Stewart MSP.

“We would also support the retro-fitting of automatic fire suppression systems (sprinklers) into all Scottish high-rise social housing.

“BAFSA has campaigned for almost forty-five years to improve the safety of the public and Firefighters by the installation of automatic fire sprinklers, which control and extinguish fires in their very early stages.”