NEW flats, social homes and shared residential buildings will have to install fire sprinklers from March next year.

The rules come after a member’s Bill from Scottish Labour MSP David Stewart was agreed at the Scottish Parliament in 2018.

Created in response to the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, the Bill proposed a number of changes to fire safety regulations, some of which have already been implemented.

The Scottish Government has now confirmed that from next year all new flats, social housing and “shared multi-occupied residential buildings” will be required to have automatic fire suppression systems.

This will apply to all developments when the building warrant is applied for on or after March 1 2021.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “I am very grateful to David Stewart MSP for his work on bringing this important issue forward and gaining cross-Parliament support.

“The increased requirements for automatic fire suppression systems will further improve fire safety for thousands of new homes each year.

“These systems have been proven to save lives and it is right that we now make these changes.

“We will continue to work closely with housing providers to make sure there is wide awareness of what is required ahead of the new regulations coming into effect.”

Mr Stewart said: “I’m delighted this is coming in before I retire as an MSP at next year’s election – what better than a life-saving ‘present’ at Christmas?”

“Fire sprinklers have been proven time and time again to be effective in the fight against fire and I know that this move will save lives.”

He added: “There has always been strong backing for these plans from the public, the industry and other MSPs, especially in the light of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

“I would still like retro-fitting sprinklers in older properties to be considered, and although that is my longer term hope I understand the problems this would pose.”

Assistant chief fire officer Stuart Stevens said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service welcomes the amended regulations and the increased provision of automatic fire suppression systems.

“This provision is a significant step forward in fire safety and will increase the safety of our communities, residents and firefighters.”