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Today, 26 May, the British Government has published changes to its regulatory guidance for fire safety in buildings in England. The changes include a requirement for sprinklers to be fitted if the top floor is higher than 11 m. Previously the height threshold was 30 m. The new guidance will take effect on 26 November 2020. The height threshold of 11 m relates to the height which a typical fire brigade ladder can reach, above which there is a step increase in risk when there is a fire.

In a consultation launched last year, the government estimated that this change would apply to over 1,600 new buildings each year. Since the Grenfell Tower disaster, it also estimated that about half of these buildings were already voluntarily being fitted with sprinklers. Nevertheless, this change will have a significant effect on the British sprinkler market.

It will also bring a significant improvement in fire safety in new apartment buildings in England. Elsewhere in the UK, Wales already requires sprinklers in all new apartments and houses, while the Scottish Government has announced that it will require sprinklers in all new apartments and all new social housing from early next year.