The Welsh Government will promote the retro-fitting of sprinklers in high-rise buildings, Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James announced today.
The Minister made the announcement following the publication of the expert group on building safety’s ‘roadmap’ for improving fire safety in high-rise buildings. While the Welsh government will respond to the group’s recommendation more fully in due course, the Minister confirmed she will accept the recommendation from the roadmap to promote the retro-fitting of sprinklers.
The Minister said:
The Welsh Government is fully committed to making people safer in their homes. We have a strong record in doing just that. Since responsibility for fire was devolved in 2005, the number of fires in dwellings has fallen further and faster in Wales than anywhere else in the UK.
That said, we cannot and we will not be complacent. Much evidence has emerged following the tragic fire and failings at Grenfell Tower. In response to this, the Welsh Government established an expert group last year. It has played a key role in recommending a way forward and I am pleased to publish its roadmap for improving fire safety in high-rise buildings this week.
I would like thank the group for their time and their lively and careful consideration of a wide range of difficult issues. I will reflect on the group’s recommendations but one recommendation I will accept here and now is that we promote the retro-fitting of sprinklers. Hard evidence supports sprinklers’ effectiveness in preventing fatalities so I am committed to looking at how we can further promote retro-fitting in high-rise buildings across sectors.
A full response to the roadmap including a clear project plan that establishes priorities and timelines for the next steps will be published in May.
The Minister added:
We will continue to build on our strong record. Where possible and appropriate, we will take forward immediate or short term actions but some issues will require more in-depth analysis and consideration. In certain cases, that will require and lead to legislative change. Inevitably and properly, this will and absolutely should take time. It’s essential we get it right to ensure we keep our residents safe in their homes.