HC Deb 11 November 1912 vol 43 cc1710-1

asked the Home Secretary whether, having regard to the loss of life at the recent fire at Messrs. John Barker and Company, of Kensington, he will consider the expediency of providing by enactment that automatic fire alarms should be installed in all large business houses where a considerable staff is employed?


I have communicated with the London County Council, who are the fire authority for London, and am informed that, according to the most recent particulars in their possession, automatic fire alarms have been installed in some 200 premises in London, but that, although a considerable number of calls from these alarms have been received by the fire brigade, in only one case was an outbreak of fire found to have occurred. Under powers obtained in 1908, the council in authorising the erection of large buildings for the use of trade or manufacture require the provision of fire appliances including automatic sprinklers and of direct telephonic communication with the nearest station, but so far have not required the use of automatic fire alarms. On the facts before me, I am not prepared to recom- mend legislation in the direction suggested. The point of supreme importance in large business houses is that there should be adequate means of escape from all parts.


Having regard to the fact that this affects the community as a whole, will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether he can appoint a small Committee, say one official of the Home Office, one of the county council, and a fire brigade expert, to inquire into the whole subject?


I will consider the point suggested by the Noble Lord.