Concerns raised about effectiveness of Welsh fire safety standards
01 June 2012
Posted by John Bull
Construction regulations due to come into force in Wales have been questioned over their effectiveness.
Concerns have been raised over the cost to builders of meeting the so-called sprinkler law, which is due to come into force in September 2013.
Under the proposed new fire safety standard, all new homes built in the country would have to be fitted with sprinklers in case blazes break out.
The Welsh Government has announced the change in fire safety standards after it was proposed by backbench Labour Assembly Member Ann Jones in 2007.
"We must seek to prevent avoidable death and injury from house fires and need to accept that there is a cost to introducing sprinklers into new properties. These proposals are significant and important in taking forward fire safety," stated John Griffiths, the Welsh Environment Minister.
However, a cost benefit analysis conducted by BRE Global on the effectiveness of sprinklers in residential properties found mandatory sprinklers would cost £6.7 million for each death prevented, indicating it is not a cost-effective policy.
It found that premises such as care homes and student dormitories were suitable for sprinkler systems, while costs could be shared when they are fitted in flats or blocks of accommodation.
Welsh Government forecasts have indicated 36 lives will be saved between 2013 and 2022 and 800 injuries prevented over the same period.
A public consultation on the measures will be carried out after they have been drawn up.
In related fire safety news, the Fire Brigades Union has called for questions to be asked of a planning authority and the owners of a building following a case relating to the deaths of four firefighters because of a blaze in Warwickshire in November 2007, including why a sprinkler system was not connected to a water supply.
A jury at Stafford Crown Court has cleared two firefighters facing charges of gross negligence and manslaughter, and the union now wants an investigation into factors such as an alleged lack of planning approval for the £6 million extension in which the fire broke out and fire doors not being installed.