A North West housing provider has completed a multi-million-pound project to retrofit sprinklers into more than 1,300 homes in Salford and Knowsley.
ForViva Group has invested £5 million in the sprinkler systems now fully installed in all its 17 highrise blocks.
The organisation was one of the first landlords in the country to announce such a plan following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017. It took the decision after consulting with tenants, fire safety experts and regional fire and rescue services.
“The safety of tenants and their peace of mind is our top priority,” said Colette McKune, ForViva’s group deputy chief executive. “We took the decision to remove cladding on affected blocks and install sprinklers, not because we lacked confidence in our existing fire safety arrangements, which we had immediately reviewed, but because we knew some tenants did not feel safe in their homes.
“We worked closely with regional fire and rescue services after Grenfell, but on a national level we felt clear guidance on regulations would take some time. We listened to tenants and their concerns and felt we had to act decisively.
“We undertook this work not only to provide additional reassurance to tenants, but because we believed it was the right thing to do.”
Sprinklers have been fitted into all apartments, communal areas, bin rooms and scooter storage facilities in the tower blocks, ForViva said. In addition, larger water tanks have been installed with the sprinkler system having its own separate booster water supply.
In Salford, the blocks where sprinklers were fitted were:
- In Barton Village (five blocks): Engels, Mees, Enfield, Cawdor and Wade
- In Central Eccles (seven blocks): Charter, Southway, College Croft, Kemball, Ewood, Cremer and Craunton
The Knowsley blocks where sprinklers have been installed are Mosscraig, Whincraig, Firscraig, Denecliff and Merecliff.
Each tenant living in the blocks received an induction before work started and received ongoing support to keep them updated throughout the process.
Peter Memory, 68, lives with his wife Carol-Ann, 67, at College Croft, a 15-storey high-rise block of sheltered accommodation in Eccles, Salford.
“Seeing what happened to people living at Grenfell Tower was an extremely worrying time for many people living in high-rise blocks,” he said. “I understood why my neighbours and other people living in blocks like mine were worried and felt unsafe. One of the biggest factors in helping people living in our block feel safe after Grenfell has been installing sprinklers.
“Even though we were reassured that the block was safe, and action was taken to replace cladding really quickly, I felt that ForViva made the right decision in agreeing to fit sprinklers to all their highrise blocks.
“It was clearly a big investment, but what tenants appreciated was it was done when other people living in other tower blocks around the country still hadn’t had their cladding taken off. My wife and I now feel safer than ever. We know that if a fire does ever happen the sprinklers will turn on.”