United Living Wales takes a lead on sprinkler installation training
United Living is working in partnership with RSP Sprinklers Wales and Newport City Homes, to train new housing construction workers on how to professionally install essential sprinkler systems for fire safety.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London last year, many housing associations and councils are currently retrofitting sprinkler systems to their existing housing stock, particularly blocks of flats and residential homes for vulnerable tenants.
To support the current demand in both retrofitting and equipping new build developments, United Living has drawn on the technical expertise it has gained in Wales – where sprinkler installation has been a compulsory requirement for all new build housing since 2013 - to train newcomers to the construction industry on effective sprinkler installation.
A training event was recently delivered by United Living’s team at the Pillgwenlly Estate regeneration site in Newport, attended by local community participants from Coleg Gwent, ITEC Skills, Communities First and the Communities for Work (Welsh Government) programmes.* Attendees to the event learned about skills needed, equipment used and the additional trade roles that are involved with sprinkler installation. The team welcomed participants with a mix of ages and gender, and showed how the skills requirements suit new entrants of all capabilities.
The training day was followed by a visit to Milton Court also in Newport, by Rebecca Evans, the Welsh Government’s new minister for housing and regeneration. Ms. Evans observed the important work that is being carried out at the housing development to retrofit sprinklers to all resident properties.
Paula Lunnon, community benefits co-ordinator, of United Living, said: “Sprinkler installation can be a complex task and the work is often intrusive at properties where residents are in situ. Ensuring customer safety and satisfaction is our absolute priority, and of course we also want to raise awareness of the skills that are needed in sprinkler installations as demand grows. We’ve been enthused with the positive feedback we’ve received and hope that our training will help both our supply chain and local community members to gain new employability skills.”
The executive director of operations at Newport City Homes, Robert Lynbeck, said: “Employability is a fundamental part of our regeneration approach, which is why we have included 300 weeks’ worth of apprenticeships into the regeneration contract. This is supported by on-site training initiatives such as the sprinklers demonstration.
“We were delighted to welcome the minister to Milton Court to speak with residents about their experiences of having the sprinklers retrofitted. It allowed the minister to see for herself the scale of our work, the challenges we face in ensuring the residents’ best interests are at the heart of our actions, and how we have worked with United Living and RSP Sprinklers Wales to minimise any disruption and reassure residents.”