No sprinklers

The Hazelwood Tower in north Kensington is just one of almost 2,000 council-owned residential tower blocks in England and Wales with no fitted sprinkler systems, writes Paul Coleman.

Sprinkler systems are fitted to only 112 – around five per cent – of 2,107 council-owned housing tower blocks in England and Wales. 

Hazelwood Tower overlooks the nearby Grenfell Tower where a fire on 14 June 2017 killed 72 people. 



Channel 4 News presented the figures on 2 July – the day before the tenth anniversary of the Lakanal House fire at Camberwell in South London. 

The Lakanal House fire on 3 July 2009 killed six people –

  • Michelle Udoake, 20-days-old
  • Felipe Francisquini Cervi, aged three
  • Thais Francisquini, six
  • Dayana Francisquini, 26
  • Catherine Hickman, 31
  • Helen Udoaka, 34


After Lakanal, an inquest jury found serious failings by Southwark Council and concluded the deaths were avoidable. The coroner, Judge Frances Kirkham, wanted local councils to retrofit sprinklers, to enhance fire risk assessments and to follow stricter fire safety regulations. 

However, a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and successive Conservative governments, led by David Cameron and Theresa May, ignored imposing such duties on local authorities. Thousands of tower blocks are thus without sprinkler systems.

Local councils, especially Labour-run authorities, claim government austerity cuts to their budgets since 2010 have prevented them from retro-fitting sprinkler systems to existing council blocks and from implementing other fire safety measures.

That failure, austerity and Britain’s ongoing political paralysis means thousands of residents in council tower blocks have to live with the constant risk of fire.



© London Intelligence ®, 2019.