Agenda item

Agenda item

Sprinkler and Fire Safety Works Update

The report of the Strategic Director (Development) is enclosed


In December 2017, as part of the consideration of the implications for Manchester of the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017, approval was given for the installation of sprinklers within Council-owned tower blocks following consultation with residents, at an estimated cost of £10.5 million (Minute Exe/17/153). The Strategic Director (Development) now submitted a report to set out progress made since then, and to seek the necessary budget and other approvals required for that work, and other related fire safety improvements projects to go ahead.


The consultations with residents had shown significant support for the installation of sprinklers in their flats. However, a number of residents were opposed to the proposal and did not want one. It was agreed that at this stage no one would be forced to have one if they objected, but that one would then be fitted whenever that flat was next vacated. Based on the assessments that had been undertaken the cost of the installation of sprinklers in all the buildings within the scope of this work was still within the £10.5M capital budget approved in December 2017, and confirmed in the 2018/19 budget set by the Council in March 2018. The installation of sprinklers in the flats of leaseholders was also to be provided, as well as those of the tenants that paid rent. A budget virement to cover the estimated cost of £240K of providing sprinklers to leaseholders was therefore approved.


The report also examined the work that had been done on Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments to the resident’s towers and flats. Those assessments had identified some work that needed to be done, and it was estimated that the cost of that would exceed the £4M that had been provided for in the 2018/19 budget set by the Council at the start of 2018. The report therefore sought support for an increase of £1.2M in the capital budget to take the total to £5.2M. The proposal was supported.


Whilst the Council’s Housing Revenue Account would accommodate the on-going maintenance costs of sprinkler systems, leaseholders would need to pay an annual fee to cover their flat, with that initially being an average of £163 for each flat.


It was noted that a recent meeting the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee had also considered this report and had endorsed its recommendations (Minute NESC/18/48).


Thanks were expressed for the help of Northwards Housing and the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service for the support they had provided with the investigations, with the consultations with residents, and the development of the proposals being put forward in the report.




1.         To note the progress made since December 2017.


2.         To note that the consultation undertaken demonstrated significant support for sprinklers but also that a minority of residents are strongly opposed.


3.         To note the support for sprinklers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and National Fire Chiefs Council. The Prime Minister has also recently endorsed retrospective fitting of sprinklers to publicly-owned tower blocks.


4.         To proceed with fitting sprinklers while giving residents the ability to decline having sprinklers installed in their flat as long as they have first been given the opportunity to understand the benefits and risks.


5.         To note that the overall budget for sprinkler installation across 35 tower blocks remains £10.5m.


6.         To note that these systems will have a 30-year life with on-going costs being met within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) through the rephrasing of the Public Sector Capital Programme.


7.         To agree that the initial installation of sprinklers be offered to leaseholders free of charge at an estimated cost of £240k (to include Miles Platting and Brunswick PFI leaseholders) from the Council’s General Fund Housing Private Sector Capital Programme. Noting that this will be in addition to the £10.5m budget in (5) above and therefore to approve an increase of £240k to the Private Sector Housing capital budget. Noting that leaseholders would be required to meet the estimated £167 annual repair and maintenance costs.


8.         To note that the fire safety works recommended by the fire risk assessor, Savills, are mandatory and that the budget approved in February 2018 did not include the tower blocks managed by PFI contractors in Miles Platting and Brunswick and Woodward Court. 


9.         To recommend to Council that the budget for fire safety works be increased from £4.0m to £5.2m, being an increase of £1.2m to the Public Sector Capital Programme funded from revenue contributions from the HRA.


10.       To note that the contracts for sprinklers and fire safety works (plus the other works included in those contracts) include contingency but otherwise place cost risk on the Council, with Northwards Housing managing these contracts on the Council’s behalf to mitigate against further costs. Further costs are, however, possible as the sample surveys undertaken may not have identified the full extent of works.


11.       To approve the revenue costs associated with maintaining sprinkler systems as set out in the report.


12.       Where access is denied by tenants or leaseholders to implement fire safety works, to delegate to the City Solicitor the authority to take legal action where required, in consultation with the City Treasurer, the Director of Housing and Residential Growth, the Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration and the Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources.


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