SPRINKLER systems should be installed in Southend tower blocks, according to a campaigner and an MP.

Concerns have been raised about fire safety in the blocks with resident Colin Nickless, 42, of Plas Newydd, submitting freedom of information requests to find out what measures are in place.

He said: “Shouldn’t these towers, that present a clear danger to their residents, be fitted with a sprinkler system?

“Is it the case that the council that doesn’t want to invest in expensive sprinkler systems on buildings scheduled for demolition in the next few years?

“Surely if these buildings only have one staircase then it’s obvious sprinkler systems need to be installed regardless of the life of the building.”

Southend West MP Sir David Amess has frequently raised his concerns over the lack of sprinkler systems in tower blocks since Grenfell and is a member of the all party parliamentary fire safety and rescue group.

He said: “I have asked the leader of the council, John Lamb and the chief executive, Alison Griffin, to brief me on the situation regarding fire safety arrangements for tower blocks in Southend.

“I only have one in the constituency I represent but I would like to know about the arrangements for Southend as a whole.

“The all party group will shortly be meeting with Dame Judith Hackitt, who is leading the independent review of building regulations and fire safety, and we will be emphasising again that we cannot, as a country, compromise safety for residents in tower blocks.

“We very much believe that sprinklers not only stop fires spreading but more importantly, save lives.

“I will ask the chief officer of the fire brigade for information regarding the equipment he has available.”

John Lamb, leader of the council, said: “Residents’ safety is a top priority for us and our partners.

“We know this work is vital and could save lives, and our detailed cabinet report in March 2018 demonstrated the priority that we are giving to this issue.

“This wide ranging report, covered both day to day and wider improvements works.

“The council and South Essex Homes, in consultation with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, will be considering the role of sprinkler and other fire suppression systems, which will be informed by the findings and recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the independent review of building regulations.

“I am very pleased that the completion of fire safety works across our tower blocks has been completed ahead of schedule, and that we have also confirmed more capital funding to ensure our other buildings are safe and compliant with national regulations.”

Mr Nickless began campaigning on fire safety following the Grenfell tower block blaze, where 72 people died after a huge fire ripped through a block of flats in London.

He also raised concerns about alarm monitoring.

He added: “In January I moved from Havering to Southend.

“Previously I had been campaigning for better housing and an increase in standards of fire safety in the estate of where I lived.

“What concerns me is that with any rescue, the time it takes to notify emergency services and evacuate the building is essential. If a building hasn’t a monitored alarm it depends on residents informing emergency services, having been alerted themselves by smoke alarms.

“But what if the fire is in the middle of the night and residents are overcome by smoke in their beds?”

A total of 14 tower blocks, each with hundreds of residents, have just one stairwell and two exit doors in which residents could be evacuated, it is claimed.

Fire service equipment only reaches ten storeys outside a building, though the service says a tower block fire would be tackled from within the building as well.

A Southend Council spokesman said: “Flats have stand-alone mains/battery smoke detectors and common areas have detectors linked to the smoke vent windows.” Southend Council’s 22 sheltered housing schemes have a fire alarm system linked to an automatic monitoring system. These alarms are linked to the Careline service which in turn would alert the fire service if they are triggered.