Southend residents made safer with sprinklers
Around 70 flats in Cecil Court in Jones Close, Southend had sprinkler systems installed over the summer in a project between South Essex Homes and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.
The sprinkler system cost £500,000 to install and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service provided £50,000 from its sprinkler fund.
Individual flats and common areas like hallways and stairwells were fitted with sprinklers. The sprinklers are designed to fit in with the room subtly and will activate when a fire occurs near the sprinkler.
Sprinkler heads will only activate where the fire is and will help to tackle the fire in the early stages. This helps to suppress the fire giving residents time to safely escape as well as to reduce the amount of smoke and heat damage from the fire.
The work was completed in July 2022 and was inspected by the protection team in Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. South Essex Homes plans to expand the project into other high rise buildings. It has also piloted an annunciation system in another high rise building and will work closely with the fire service to help make residents safer in their homes.
Chris Parker, Director of Operations at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “I’m pleased that South Essex Homes has taken the decision to have sprinklers installed in this building to help keep residents safe and I’m really pleased Essex County Fire and Rescue Service was able to contribute £50,000 from its sprinkler fund. We work closely with local councils and developers within high rise buildings across Essex with a joint ambition to make them as safe as possible.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex said: “Sprinkler systems do make a big difference in tower blocks like this. We’ve had a fund in place for quite some time and we’re happy to work with any of the local authorities or registered social landlord to match fund up to £50,000 to install this sort of system and make high rise buildings in the county safer than they are. It’s really important that we’re out here working to keep the public safe.”
Paul Longman, Head of Major Projects at South Essex Homes said: “We’ve had a really positive response from residents. Residents are very very happy with it because it basically will improve their safety going forward in the unfortunate event of a fire occurring.”
Councillor Ian Gilbert, Southend-on-Sea said: “We know that fire safety particularly in tower blocks is a very serious issue and it’s one that we do take extremely seriously. This is somewhere that we want to take forward and make sure that all our residents are safe and they humanly can be.
While there have been no fires at Cecil Court, sprinklers extinguished a fire in a high rise building in Trinity Avenue, Westcliff-On-Sea in the early hours of 28 May 2022. A cooking fire started in the kitchen and sounded the smoke alarms. Everyone evacuated safely and the sprinklers went off in the kitchen, extinguishing the fire before crews arrived. Crews ventilated the smoke filled kitchen and cleaned up the water from the sprinkler but minimal damage was caused compared to what could have been there had there been a fire.
If your building could benefit from a sprinkler system. Get in touch with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service for free advice and to see if you qualify for matched funding at essex-fire.gov.uk/sprinklers