Residents' group says Wigan tower blocks do not need sprinklers

The chair of a group representing tenants living in the borough's flats says plans to install sprinklers are unnecessary.

Friday, 2nd November 2018, 2:45 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd November 2018, 3:48 pm
Flats in Scholes village

Phil Harris of the Hi-Risers group based in Scholes criticised Wigan Council as it launched a consultation on whether to fit the firefighting measures in the village’s high-rise blocks.

The town hall has proposed fitting the sprinklers as part of a Greater Manchester-wide project following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower last year.

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Mr Harris, though, said there was no need to take such a step and the tenants’ views on the matter were not being considered.

He said: “The information the council has put out is all in favour of sprinklers and never mentions the downsides, which will have to be rectified.

“Sprinklers pump out 55 litres of water a minute so there is a real risk of damage to flats. We have had many incidents of water travelling through flats. In one case it ended up on the second floor from a leak on the seventh.

“Tenants I have spoken to do not want sprinklers. Some have told me they would rather leave their flats.

“Grenfell was a one-in-a-million catastrophe caused by neglect. It cannot happen here because our cladding does not burn.

“Our fire plans are valid and were confirmed by the officer who attended the fire in Douglas House in August.

“The Grenfell report itself warned against kneejerk reactions from councils wanting to be seen to do something.

“We have been adamant and upfront with the council all the way along the line, but the evidence which has been put forward has been ignored.”

Wigan Council has created a show flat in Boyswell House so residents know what the system would look like.

The fire service is also supporting the regional plan for sprinklers in high-rise blocks.

Coun Terry Halliwell, portfolio holder for housing and welfare, said: “Although we have a good fire safety record in our high rise blocks, the welfare of our residents is our number one priority.

“None of our blocks have the same cladding as the Grenfell tower but we still want to make them as safe as possible so our residents are reassured.”