Grenfell Tower fire: Council leader claims sprinklers were not fitted as residents did not want prolonged disruption

British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association has put the cost of installing a sprinkler system at £200,000

David Hughes
Friday 16 June 2017 01:18 BST
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A ladder extends insdie the rubble of Grenfall tower as it continues to smoulder
A ladder extends insdie the rubble of Grenfall tower as it continues to smoulder (Getty Images)

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Sprinklers were not fitted during the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower because residents did not want the prolonged disruption it would have caused, the leader of the council responsible for the block has claimed.

Nick Paget-Brown, the Tory leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said there was not a "collective view" among residents in favour of sprinklers.

Experts have suggested that sprinklers could have been fitted in the 24-storey building for £200,000 during the £10 million refurbishment.

Asked if installing sprinklers was considered as part of the refurbishment, Mr Paget-Brown said the advice was that the best way to combat the spread of a fire was to contain it.

He told BBC2's Newsnight: "I didn't consider retrofitting sprinklers because we were told that what you try to do when you are refurbishing is to contain a fire within a particular flat so that the fire service can evacuate that flat, deal with the fire.

"There was not a collective view that all the flats should be fitted with sprinklers because that would have delayed and made the refurbishment of the block more disruptive.

"We are now talking retrospectively after the most enormous tragedy, but many residents felt that we needed to get on with the installation of new hot water systems, new boilers and that trying to retrofit more would delay the building and that sprinklers aren't the answer."

But he said: "Of course I regret anything that we might have done differently that would have avoided this tragedy."

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association has put the cost of installing a sprinkler system at £200,000.

Mr Paget-Brown was unable to say how many tower blocks in his borough lacked sprinkler systems.

Amid speculation that the cladding fitted to Grenfell Tower could have been a factor in the fatal blaze, Mr Paget-Brown said no other refurbishments in the borough would use the system.

"As far as I know there are no other towers with that cladding," he said.

Grenfell tower fire: How the disaster unfolded

Asked if the borough would use similar components on towers in the future, he said: "No."

He added: "We have asked the London Fire Brigade to look at all our towers and give us a report on whether fire safety in all of the towers - because we are very conscious residents are worried about this - whether they can give us the assurance that we need that all of those towers are safe and that they comply with fire standards, fire regulations."

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