Fire officers criticise developers for leaving sprinklers out of city council's £40m Hanley civic centre?'
DEVELOPERS building a council's controversial new headquarters have been criticised by fire officers for failing to include a sprinkler system.
The first of Stoke-on-Trent City Council's two new buildings in Hanley will meet official regulations but will not include sprinklers.
This is despite Staffordshire Fire and Rescue leading a national campaign calling for them to be required by law in all new buildings.
Fire officers say sprinkler systems can prevent six-figure repair bills at major buildings by extinguishing fires before they spread.
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They are also lobbying the Government for sprinklers to be fitted in all new houses – a measure now required by law in Wales – and want councils to set the example.
Manchester-based Genr8, which is building the city council's two new office buildings and the wider Central Business District (CBD), said it has been 'complimented' by the fire service on its designs and that sprinklers are 'unnecessary'.
But Chris Enness, deputy chief fire officer at Staffordshire Fire, told The Sentinel: "We are disappointed to learn of the decision not to include sprinklers in the city council office building.
"Clearly the council will ensure the building meets regulations but our view is that regulations are the lowest standard permitted to allow it to be occupied.
"At a time when all public sector services are facing financial challenges we feel a longer term view of building protection, the environment and ultimately our fragile economy is needed."
Staffordshire County Council faced criticism when developing its £38 million offices in Tipping Street, Stafford, which opened in November 2011 but are still undergoing repairs on faulty cladding.
Peter Dartford, chief fire officer, said: "We had two big incidents over Christmas. Firstly, the Twyfords factory fire on December 28, which was a complete burn-out that has left several businesses in jeopardy, despite our best efforts.
"Compare that to the fire at Autoneum, in Trentham Lakes, which was protected by sprinklers that fully contained it.
"We turned up and essentially helped with a clear up and the firm opened as normal the following day with no impact on production."
Genr8 partner Mike Smith said: "The fire safety installations have been designed by Arup Fire Engineering to the highest standards and to fully comply with all relevant legislation.
"North Staffs Fire Service fully accept this and have indeed complimented us on our design approach.
"Sprinklers are not necessary in the proposed buildings to either comply with statutory requirements or to increase safety."