Headlines: November 6th, 2007

The Local Government Association is calling for a fundamental review of building regulations and the need to install fire suppression systems following the Warwickshire warehouse fire in which four firefighters are feared to have died. The LGA will meet Government ministers this week to discuss this.

They will call for an overhaul of the existing regulations that do not currently compel the owners of new buildings to assess whether fire suppression systems – such as sprinklers – are needed. At present some warehouses as large as 20,000 square metres have no sprinkler systems. The LGA will ask ministers to reconsider that requirement and to look into whether systems should be fitted to smaller buildings.

Les Byrom, Chair for Fire at the Local Government Association, said the loss of life in Warwickshire emphasised the risks that firefighters were taking as part of their duties. “We must all make sure that lessons are urgently learned to reduce the possibility of these sorts of awful events happening again. While it is inevitable that firefighters will continue to risk their lives to protect others on a day-to-day basis, businesses, local people and government all have a huge role to play in cutting these risks to an absolute minimum,” he said.

The incident should also provide a wake up call to ensure buildings were as protected from widespread fires as possible. “Ministers should now instigate an urgent review of building regulations to ensure that the events of this weekend are not repeated,” Councillor Byrom said.