£3 million shortfall for retrofitting sprinklers in Thurrock high-rises

By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

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THE installation of sprinkler systems into Thurock’s existing high-rise residential buildings would cost the council more than £3million, a report has found.

Concerns over fire safety have been raised several times at the council since the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017.

This led to an investigation into whether sprinkler systems can be retrofitted into the authority’s 15 high-rise blocks.

A housing scrutiny committee will hear next week that there would be a funding shortfall of £3.15million for the work.

A council report states: “It is estimated that the total cost of retrospectively fitting sprinkler systems into the borough’s 15 high-rise blocks would be £3.3million.

“Grant funding of £10,000 per high-rise block has been made available to the council from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. This grant is only payable on completion of the works and at this stage is not time restricted.

“Whilst this is a significant amount of capital in the form of a grant it would still leave a £3.15m shortfall in the funding requirements if the council were to retrospectively fit sprinklers into each high-rise block.”

The costs would include installing a new pipework system which would need to be concealed in each flat, as well as a dedicated pump system.

The report adds that if the council wants to proceed with the work it must detail why it is essential in blocks “deemed a safe residential building”.

Other measures that have already been agreed include replacing all fire doors with a type that provides protection for up to 30 minutes.

The work will not be completed this year but will be part of a programme of gradual improvements over several years.

Consultations are also being undertaken to explore whether to install CCTV in the main communal areas on each floor of all tower blocks.

The report adds: “This project is focused on maintaining safe homes for our residents and will enable the Council to review each floor if any incidents occur or if any anti-social behaviour incidents occur.

“Further to this it is proposed that in conjunction with the installation of the CCTV, the smoke detection system that is in communal areas of all fifteen high rise blocks for controlling the fire compartmentation measures will also be linked back to the CCTV control room.

“This will enable the control room which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to immediately review the camera on the applicable floor where the smoke detector has been activated allowing them to take the appropriate course of action depending on the circumstances.”

Further safety measures will be discussed during the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee next Tuesday.

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