Tower blocks to get new sprinkler system

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A Sunderland-based house builder is taking its fire safety responsibility one step further after fitting its tower blocks with sprinklers.

Gentoo Group has already started work on D’Arcy Court Tower in Hendon, as part of a £4m modernisation scheme.

The project is being supported by Tyne and Fire and Rescue Service whose recent campaign ‘Sprinklers Save Lives’ promoted the benefits of sprinker systems in commercial and domestic properties.

The installation aims to complement the current fire safety arrangements.

Ian Porter, Gentoo Executive Director of Property, said: “The safety of our customers is of primary importance and we continue to work closely with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service on a number of projects to improve fire safety in our properties.

“As a result of our continuing discussions with the fire service, we are eager to invest in schemes that could save lives in the event of a fire. The sprinkler pilot will enable us to trial this arrangement with the hope to roll it out amongst our other high-rise properties as we undertake improvements.”

Less than 1% of high-rise council tower blocks currently have sprinklers fitted within their high-rise homes. Installing sprinkler systems in high-rise towers is not currently a legal requirement but comes highly recommended by coroners following inquests into deaths of eight individuals, in two tower block fires, in the past six years.

John Baines, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “Gentoo are showing great leadership in protecting their communities and supporting those most vulnerable in their homes. As we know, fires in the home devastate lives and whilst working smoke alarms are essential to provide an early warning; they will not stop the fire developing. Sprinkler systems prevent a fire growing. Put simply, they can, and do, save lives.

“I would like to commend Gentoo for their foresight in enhancing the safety of residents within D’Arcy Court Tower by committing to fit sprinkler systems to this high rise. This is a major step forward in improving the safety of residents in high rise housing.”

Designed and installed by Armstrong Priestly Ltd, installation of the sprinklers began on 22 July and will continue two floors at a time until completion.

Gentoo and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service currently work together on a number of initiatives including jointly delivering community and customer alerts and fire safety talks.