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National Fire Sprinkler Week

30 January 2014

A groundbreaking scheme using mobile sprinkler systems to protect some of the region’s most vulnerable residents is being expanded by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service and its partners.

The service has been involved in the project for several years, with an initial pilot scheme in Hull proving successful enough to be repeated across all four of the Community Protection Units in the Humberside Service area.

There are now 11 mobile units installed at homes across the area and five more are on order, with the potential for more to be made available in future.

That will allow for more flexibility to target those most at risk from fires at home, where circumstances mean other techniques have not reduced risk sufficiently.

The work is being highlighted in support of the first national Fire Sprinkler Week, which starts from 3 February to promote the message that sprinklers are a cost effective way to save lives and protect property in both commercial and domestic situations.

Station Manager Steve Duffield said the domestic project sprinkler was so successful because of a partnership approach, involving the Safeguarding Adults Boards in each local authority area to identify individuals at most risk.

“When we visit someone in a property, we aim to reduce the risk of fire as effectively as possible, educating and working with the occupants to change behaviours,” said Station Manager Duffield.

“Where risk is still present, we consider equipment that may make individuals safer in their homes which now includes, ultimately, domestic sprinkler systems.”

The equipment is financed through local partnership arrangements and it is possible more will be made available in future. However, because the scheme targets the most vulnerable members of the community it is expected numbers needed will reach a natural ceiling. Units can be re-used when circumstances change and they are no longer needed at addresses where they have been installed.

Sprinklers are regarded as highly cost effective in terms of saving lives and protecting property, both in commercial and domestic settings.

The equipment works through sensors which trigger the sprinkler heads only where fire is present, keeping water damage to a minimum while supressing fire to allow occupants to escape and firefighters to arrive before a fire has the opportunity to develop.

Sprinkler equipment can be installed into existing homes relatively easily. Sprinkler heads remain hidden behind caps unless they are needed, meaning they remain unobtrusive in a domestic environment.

The Chief Fire Officers’ Association is aiming to increase awareness of the value of sprinklers in both domestic and business settings.

Sprinklers will be required on new-build housing in Wales in future and the intention is to influence the Government as well as businesses, landlords and householders to extend the numbers of buildings which are protected by sprinklers in England.

This is regarded as affordable because of the costs of installing an maintaining sprinkler systems. On a new-build family home installation costs would be expected to be no more than £3,500 with annual maintenance costs between £75 and £150, according to the Chief Fire Officers’ Association.