This National Sprinkler Week we are raising awareness of the benefits of sprinkler systems in safeguarding buildings and people from the devastating impact of fires.
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has highlighted its particular concern about new schools, care homes, and warehouses, where building regulations vary significantly across the UK. Evidence shows that buildings without sprinkler systems can often lead to large-scale incidents that have a significant impact on local communities, resulting in loss of property and economic resilience. Care homes pose a risk to vulnerable people, and losing such critical community buildings can have devastating consequences.
Such incidents require significant firefighting resources, and the damage caused to the sites can have far-reaching consequences, impacting the environment, economy, and business continuity. In England and Wales, regulations only require fire sprinklers to be installed in new single-story warehouses greater than 20,000m². To bring the UK in line with much of Europe and improve firefighter safety, this requirement should be reduced to 4,000 m², especially as e-commerce increasingly relies on such buildings.
Research by the NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) has found that sprinkler systems are highly reliable, operating on 94% of occasions and extinguishing or containing fires on 99% of occasions. This makes sprinklers the most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in their early stages. The result is that sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80%, reduce property damage by 90%, and substantially reduce damage to the environment from fire.
Dom Purchon, Head of Protection at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service emphasised “The significance of sprinkler systems in protecting not only buildings but also the lives of firefighters cannot be underestimated. These systems are designed to respond to smaller incidents, which is why they are fully supported by fire services.
"I strongly believe that sprinklers are essential in larger buildings because of both economic and human reasons. The initial cost of a sprinkler system can be easily recovered over a period of about ten years through reduced insurance premiums and less disruption to business continuity if a fire occurs. Therefore, I urge all building owners to consider installing sprinkler systems to safeguard their property, employees, and firefighters."