Sprinklers are being rolled out to 37 high-rise blocks in Leeds in the wake of Grenfell

Firefighters outside Sherburn Court in Leeds, where sprinklers have been installed.
Firefighters outside Sherburn Court in Leeds, where sprinklers have been installed.

New fire safety measures have started to be installed across 37 high-rise housing blocks in Leeds.

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, Leeds City Council identified that £32m would be needed to fit sprinkler systems across its 116 homes sites.

Although no council buildings in Leeds were identified as being at risk in the same way the 24-storey block in London was, the council prioritised 37 sites deemed to be of “higher risk” because of their height, the number of staircases, whether they are sheltered homes or not, findings of Fire Risk Assessments, and a previous history of fires.

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The first fittings have now taken place at Sherburn Court in Swarcliffe.

Coun Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said: “Safety for tenants at our high-rise blocks remains an absolutely priority for Leeds City Council. While none of our blocks were identified at risk in the same way as Grenfell, we have set out through our housing investment strategy a significant programme of work to provide additional safety measures where appropriate, as an extra reassurance to tenants.

“This includes moving forward with the installation of sprinklers in 37 of our blocks, and it is fantastic that this work has now been completed at Sherburn Court.”

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West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Leeds district commander Andrew Farrell said: “Our partnership with Leeds City Council continues to grow and the provision of sprinklers in a large number of high-rise blocks within the city shows a determination to keep both residents and our firefighters safe.

“Sprinklers will provide our firefighters with alternative means of dealing with a fire in this type of building and help them to resolve incidents quickly and effectively. Local fire crews will be attending all high rise blocks as soon as the sprinklers are fitted to understand the new systems in place.”

Crews were invited to familiarise themselves with the new system at Sherburn Court, which contains more than 80 flats on 13 floors.

The National Fire Chiefs Council said in 2013 that sprinklers were the most effective way to ensure that fires are suppressed before services arrive, and “save lives”.

The YEP reported in June last year on how the council faced an “adverse” situation after ministers rejected its plea for help with funding a multi-million-pound upgrade to fire safety measures in high-rise homes after Grenfell.

Following the 2017 disaster, which claimed the lives of 72 people, the Government declined to pay anything towards the council’s bid for cash to help with the £32m needed to fit sprinkler systems across its 116 housing blocks.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government wrote to all councils in 2013 asking them to consider a coroner’s suggestion that they consider retro-fitting sprinklers in existing high-rises.