Welsh Government to fit sprinklers in new homes
The Welsh Government will fit fire sprinklers in all new homes from next year, despite warnings that the plan would cost £6.7 million for every life it saved.
Welsh environment minister John Griffith announced yesterday that all new and converted residential properties in Wales would be fitted with sprinkler systems from September 2013.
He promised it would save a predicted 36 lives and prevent an estimated 800 injuries between 2013 and 2022.
Fire experts in England are now calling for the UK government to make a similar move. Chief fire officer Ian Hayton, from Cleveland fire brigade, said: ‘Let’s not wait another 25 years for evidence to say we should have introduced the widespread fitting of sprinklers.’
But a cost benefit analysis by built environment research organisation BRE Global into the Welsh proposal found that between 2013 and 2022 the cost per life saved of the sprinklers policy would be £6.7 million.
‘Fitting sprinklers in all new residential buildings in Wales would not be cost effective,’ its report said.
The measures will be subject to public consultation in order to develop the regulations and technical requirements needed to make the plans law.
Mr Griffith said: ‘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. Wales will be at the forefront of reducing fire risk and cutting the number of avoidable deaths and injuries caused by fires in residential premises.’
According to UK fire statistics there are an average of 2,168 fires, 17 deaths and 503 injuries in fires in residential premises in Wales every year.
The Welsh Government is due to begin on the development of regulations and the technical requirements necessary to introduce the sprinkler measure, which will be subject to public consultation.
Mr Hayton has encouraged people in Cleveland to sign a petition to debate the issue in the UK parliament. Local housing association the Vela Group has fitted 32 sprinkler systems in a new development after the fire brigade offered to fund them.