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Safe as houses

Published: 04/07/2016

For those of you who have been to Flint lately, you couldn’t help but notice the transformation of the Towers as the scaffolding comes down. This transformation is not only taking place on the exterior of the buildings, but work to the interior of the buildings is now drawing to a close. Flintshire County Council has been working on retro-fitting a sprinkler system throughout the whole of the three blocks, working closely with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service. The work, which has taken 8 months from start to finish, is due to be completed in 3 weeks. The whole project has been running for three years since the tender process when Flintshire County Council appointed South Wales firm RSP Sprinklers Wales to take on the work. All new buildings have to be fitted with sprinklers following the introduction of new building regulations in January this year. Although it is not a requirement to fit sprinklers in older buildings, Flintshire County Council has gone beyond requirements by installing sprinklers in all 270 flats in total (Richard Heights - 84 flats, Castle Heights - 84 flats, Bolingbroke Heights - 102 flats). Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Helen Brown, said: “Sprinklers have been installed in the lounge, kitchen, bedroom and hallway of each flat as well as in all communal areas, including the basement. As a Council, we have gone above and beyond to ensure that our residents have peace of mind and feel more secure. The increased safety could have a positive effect on savings in insurance for both the Council and our residents.” John Newman, representing RSP Sprinklers Wales, said: “Residential Sprinklers were delighted to be given this contract with Flintshire County Council and it has been a mammoth task to install 7500 metres (4.7 miles!) tube and 2070 sprinkler heads in just 8 months. The water supply to the sprinklers has been taken from the existing boosted domestic supply which avoided having to install new tanks and pumps just for the sprinkler system, and, as sprinklers are only affected by heat and not smoke, the controls have been integrated with the main fire alarm system to provide the necessary alert to the fire service which should result in a reduction in false alarm callouts. I’d like to thank the residents for the patience and understanding during the work.” Stuart Millington, Senior Fire Safety Manager with North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (NWFRS), said: “We are pleased to have worked on this project in partnership with Flintshire County Council and Residential Sprinklers to provide safe accommodation for the residents of the three tower blocks in Flint. There is clear evidence that sprinklers can be effective in stopping fires spreading, significantly enhancing fire safety and drastically reducing death and serious injury as a result of fire. Smoke detectors are a super alert system and warn you there is a fire, but a sprinkler system will contain and may extinguish the fire, subsequently protecting the occupants.” Tony Jones, Capital Works Manager from Flintshire County Council, stated: This is an important project to the three towers adding extra fire protection to our tenants’ homes as part of our WHQS works. I am extremely proud of the collaborative approach with the NWFRS in supporting us through the project. I would also like to give a massive thank you to all of our tenants in providing patience while all the projects, not just the installation of the sprinklers, have been ongoing, truly appreciated.”