No sprinklers for high rise leaseholders

Monday, 28th April 2014

Leaseholders with flats in Tamworth’s six high-rise blocks will be able to opt out of having fire safety sprinklers installed in their flats after a decision by Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet.

In January this year, Cabinet approved the installation of fire sprinkler systems in the six high-rise Riverside blocks as a fire safety measure.

The plan was to fit sprinklers in each of the 348 flats in the six blocks, as well as all the communal areas, to improve fire safety and give extra protection to residents.

Following the decision, a formal consultation process was begun with letters outlining the proposals and inviting comments sent to all 40 leaseholders – those people who own their own flats in the mostly council-tenanted blocks.

Weymouth House - one of the affected blocks

Weymouth House – one of the affected blocks

Of those 40 leaseholders, all 31 who responded said they were opposed to the installation of sprinklers within their flats for a number of reasons. However, discussions at senior levels of the Council as far back as early February had already decided it would be unfair to ask these leaseholders to pay for their share scheme on this occasion.

Because of the opposition and the stance of the Council with regards to leaseholders not having to pay, advice was sought from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (FARS) as to whether a sprinkler system would still provide effective fire protection, even if it was not fitted in all flats.

Staffordshire FARS advised that partial installation of sprinkler systems, with some flats opting out, would still provide adequate fire protection for the blocks as a whole and would not affect the overall effectiveness of the system.

On Thursday night, Cabinet agreed to install sprinkler systems in all six blocks of flats, with sprinkler heads to be installed in all council-owned flats. Leaseholders who wish to have sprinklers installed will be able to pay to have them fitted, but this would be purely optional.

It was also agreed that the sprinkler systems would be designed so that leaseholders could opt in and have sprinklers installed at a later date if they wished to.