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Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have revealed that a sprinkler system will be fitted to a huge new student accommodation block in Portsmouth after all.
A few weeks ago, the service said it was disappointed that the system wouldn't be fitted, saying it would make the building much safer.
But after further talks, the developers Watkin Jones say the automatic sprinklers will be installed throughout the building.
Area Manager Mick Crennell, who is head of Community Fire Protection for the service said
"This is a fantastic outcome and I commend Watkin Jones for their vision and foresight as well as their openness and commitment to make this building as safe a possible for all concerned.
"The Fire Service are able to assist in the design phase of any project in order to help balance the business imperative with occupants' safety and this project clearly demonstrates the benefits that can be gained.
"We have learned much from this experience and are committed to assisting developers and businesses during difficult economic times. We can do this by working together more closely at an early stage".
A spokesperson for Watkin Jones said
"We listened to the valid points raised by the fire service and we have now decided to fit sprinklers in this iconic development."
Chairman of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Royston Smith said,
"It is critical that developers include the Fire and Rescue Service at the earliest possible stage within the design phase of any major project to enable the Service to assist in terms of the balance between business benefits and community safety.
"The Authority actively supports the provision of fire sprinklers which save lives, protect property, sustain local communities and conserve the environment.”
Rebecca Bunting, Deputy Vice-chancellor said,
“The University welcomes the news that the building’s developers are now working closely with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services to make the building as safe as it possibly can be.
"The care of our students is always our number one priority and we welcome any moves that enhance their safety.”
Peter Holland, CFOA President :
"The Chief Fire Officers' Association is delighted that Watkin Jones have taken into consideration the fire safety recommendations put forward by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
It is critical that developers include the Fire and Rescue Service at the earliest possible stage within the design phase of major projects to enable the service to assist in terms of the balance between business benefits and community safety."
Iain Cox, Business Sprinkler Alliance Chairman:
“I am delighted to see that good sense has prevailed in this case.
"It is an indisputable fact that sprinklers do save lives, allow premises to be used flexibly, effectively and safely, as well as protect properties and the environment.
I am pleased that Watkin Jones have seen fit to reconsider their earlier decision in light of the extra information that has been provided”.
Chris Enness, CFOA Lead on Sprinklers:
"The safety of our communities and our firefighters are of paramount importance.
"The fire and rescue service is as much about prevention as it is about operational rescues.
"Watkin Jones are to be commended for the far-sighted decision they have made to install sprinklers which will make a significant difference to the safety of the students who will come to live there."
HFRS and the wider fire sector say they will continue to lobby central Government for a change to the building regulations to require all buildings, above 30m in height to be fitted with sprinklers.