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Council to fit high-rise tower blocks with sprinklers

Scotland's largest social landlord carried out a structural review of the buildings.

Tower blocks: High-rises in towns like Motherwell to get sprinkler systems.
Tower blocks: High-rises in towns like Motherwell to get sprinkler systems. North Lanarkshire Council

High-rise tower blocks owned by Scotland's biggest social landlord are to be fitted with automatic sprinkler systems under new proposals.

North Lanarkshire Council announced the plans after a structural review, starting in 2016, of all 48 of its tower blocks, which contain around 4000 flats.

The local authority said there is currently no legal requirement for sprinklers in the high-rises but added that it wants to minimise fire risk for residents.

Most towers in North Lanarkshire were constructed between 1965 and 1973 and would require being retro-fitted with sprinkler systems in blocks where it is deemed feasible and practical to do so.

The estimated cost for the project is £10m.

The council is working with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association and Scottish Water to identify the most appropriate systems for various blocks.

Its proposals will be put to councillors in North Lanarkshire's enterprise and housing committee next Thursday.

They come as the council prepares to consult with residents on its ambitious plans to knock down all 48 tower blocks in the next two decades, to be replaced by low-rise social housing.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1404841-council-to-consider-knocking-down-all-high-rise-flats/ | default

If approved, the proposals could transform the skylines of towns like Motherwell, Coatbridge, Airdrie and Wishaw.

They are part of a £500m strategy to invest in town centre regeneration and modern social housing across the council area.

The fire safety of high-rise flats was brought into sharp focus by last year's Grenfell Tower tragedy.

More than 900 tower block inspections have been carried out across Scotland since the London blaze, which killed at least 70 people.

Combustible cladding on the building is believed to have fuelled the fire.

Last month, an MSP launched a Holyrood member's bill to make it a legal requirement for sprinklers to be installed in all new-build social housing.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1406331-making-sprinklers-mandatory-will-save-lives-says-msp/ | default

North Lanarkshire Council's assistant chief executive Des Murray said: "Minimising risk is our 48 tower blocks is our absolute priority.

"We began our examination of towers in 2016 and have concluded that - while our fire safety arrangements are robust - the installation of sprinklers will further enhance safety and provide additional reassurance."

He added: "Given that some towers will remain over the next two decades, it's important that we consider the fire safety implications during that period.

"In line with guidance from Scottish Fire and Rescue, we have developed robust fire and safety procedures to help safeguard those living in our high rise accommodation.

"This includes our caretakers being fully fire warden-trained, safety guidance issued to all residents and regular fire risk assessments carried out."

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