To mark National Sprinkler Week, which runs from 17 to 23 May, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has spoken to residents of Charnwood House in Lichfield, who are to have sprinklers retrospectively fitted in their flats.
The sprinklers, to be fitted through collaboration between Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and housing provider Midland Heart, is the latest achievement in the service’s Community Sprinkler Project aimed at making high-rise properties safer by protecting residents from domestic fires.
The safety of our customers is at the heart of all we do in helping around 70,000 residents to live as independently as possible across the Midlands region.
Mother-of-two, Sara Turrell, 36, has osteoarthritis in her right hip which affects her mobility.
She has lived in her third-floor flat at Charnwood House with her 15-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter for three years.
She said: “Having the option of having sprinklers fitted has made me feel a lot better about what could happen if there was fire.
“Before we were given the option, I would worry about how long it takes me to get up and down the stairs and encouraging the children to go down, but now I know there is going to be an extra barrier between us and any fire – I feel a lot safer.
“Since (the) Grenfell (fire), we as a family have got a fire plan and the children know what to do, but the sprinklers will make it even safer, along with the fire doors everywhere.
“I didn’t hesitate to agree to have them fitted – it makes me feel so much safer knowing that there will be another line of defence against fire, to protect myself and my children.”
David Lees, 58, is a resident of a second floor flat in Charnwood House, where he has lived for 12 years.
David has COPD a lung disease and often worries about what he would do if there was a fire.
“In the case of any fire, your life is at risk, so to be honest, I welcomed the sprinklers because it’s another way of saving my life and others.
“My COPD is affected by just cooking in the kitchen sometimes, so if there was a fire, I know I would be at risk from the smoke.
“Sprinklers will just mean I’m safer in my own home, and that’s a good feeling.”
Other Charnwood House residents acknowledged that the nature of its concrete construction means it already safer than some others, but welcomed the sprinklers as an added precaution.
Dave Hodgkins, Midland Heart Fire Safety Manager, said: “The safety of our customers is at the heart of all we do in helping around 70,000 residents to live as independently as possible across the Midlands region.
"We are thrilled that the option of having sprinklers installed has been so well-received by the residents of Charnwood House, who have been so positive in engaging with us and the fire service.
“The benefits of having the sprinklers installed through this joint initiative further protects the occupant from fire and supports our mission to enable our customers to live independently.”
Ashley Mather, Fire Engineering and Suppression Lead for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, who has worked on the project, said: “We are really proud of what Midland Heart are trying to achieve by agreeing to install sprinklers at Charnwood House and we are happy to support them in any way we can in order to further protect residents from the risk of fire.
“As part of the collaboration, Midland Heart have also committed to fitting sprinklers at Andrews House in Lichfield, Staffordshire.
“This is a truly joint project which has come to fruition as a result of lots of hard work, dedication and most of all – understanding from residents, who want to do as much as they can to protect each other from domestic fires and we’re very grateful for that.”
As part of its ongoing work, Midland Heart is currently looking to retrospectively fit sprinklers in a further 10 of its properties, with an additional two currently under consultation.
For more information on Midland Heart, visit: https://www.midlandheart.org.uk/.