‘Government must pay’: Sheffield joins force demanding safe sprinklers

Sheffield City Council has joined forces with other local authorities demanding government pay for new sprinklers and ensure the safety of thousands of tower blocks.

Politicians from across the country and different political parties are part of the group calling for the funding in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy which killed 72 people in a fire.

It will go towards the installation of sprinklers into all council and housing association-owned buildings above 18 metres high.

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The letter calling for more funding was signed by Sheffield and 14 other local authorities.

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Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, joined other senior representatives in delivering it to 10 Downing Street.

He said: “Following the horror of the Grenfell Tower disaster, we acted quickly to move forward plans to install sprinkler systems in all council owned tower blocks. I firmly believe this was the right thing to do, and we made this commitment using our own funds, not sure whether we would secure government funding.

“The government might not value tenant safety but we do - we are making over £400 million in improvements to council homes over the next five years, including significant fire safety measures.

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“We are committed to ensuring that all council owned tower blocks in Sheffield are fitted with sprinklers, but we feel it is only right that government pays for this".

Local authorities have dealt with severe cuts to funding in the past decade which has forced them to scrape together resources to survive.

Coun Steinke added they were “increasingly stretched” and despite government agreeing with the Hackitt report, which showed the need for sprinkler systems, they failed to support them with paying for this.

Since the Grenfell tragedy, several other authorities have called for retrofitting of sprinklers including the Fire Protection Association, Royal Institute of British Architects, Fire Brigades Union and the all-party parliamentary fire safety and rescue group.

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One tower block in Sheffield failed new fire safety tests which were introduced after the tragedy. Hanover Tower is currently in the process of getting new safe cladding which is due to be on the tower by the end of summer.