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Monday, 9 April 2018

Sprinklers and Tower Blocks. A Time to Talk. A Time to Act.


Fire broke out on the 14th of June 2017 at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of public housing flats in North Kensington. 71 died. 70 more were injured.

Big picture discussions about what should have been done in the past and what to do in the future make the headlines. The public, quite rightly, want to get past the reviews and the unpicking as quickly as possible. They want action. This should never have happened and this must never happen again.

Here at IPS we think similarly. Whilst we won’t get into any political aspect of this occurrence on this forum, we will agree wholeheartedly that this must not happen again. However we are keen to highlight that the governments headline regarding the legislative changes they are about to impose – that retro fitting sprinklers to all UK high-rise flats is to be compulsory – is not the whole story.

Just as important as what needs to be done – is how.

Measure twice. Cut once.


Box-ticking can be deadly. Not all cladding is the same. This is clear. And the same goes for sprinkler systems. The careful prescription of the right kind of system requires discussion block-by-block. There is no one size fits all. We should know – we’ve been providing installer training and parts for 20 years.

It is important to point out at this juncture that this blog story is not a marketing piece. IPS does not fit sprinkler systems. But we do have a view on how the decisions are made as to which sprinkler systems are installed.

It’s hard when new legislation shifts a default position. Because whoever is overseeing will, and we understand this to a degree, look for an approach that is fast and all encompassing. All we are encouraging is a little discussion, by whoever is commissioning with those that know, about the best systems for each individual dwelling.

The most cost effective. The least disruptive to install. Lightweight making them easy to handle during transportation and installation. Accepted by all leading insurers. These are important. But so too are effective performance. How long the systems last. Failure rates. Safety issues.

It feels strange writing like this. Worrying that specification will not be correct. Worrying that lives will be put at risk in this area or any area like this. However history tells us that, sadly, shortcuts are taken.

If any specifiers or installers would like to chat to us impartially to explore how to get this right – please call our Freephone number on 0800 975 7971.

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