Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC's) National Sprinkler Week campaign. The campaign runs from 16 – 22 May and will raise awareness of the benefits of sprinkler systems in keeping buildings and people safe from fire.
NFCC are particularly concerned about new build schools, care homes and warehousing.
Building regulations differ across these building types across the UK despite the evidence showing that these non sprinklered buildings can often lead to large scale incidents which impact local communities resulting in loss of property and economic resilience. In care homes there is not only the risk of losing a critical community building, but a risk to vulnerable people.
Despite this there is some disparity in building regulations and sprinkler systems across the UK. The legislation in Wales and Scotland is stricter across many building types meaning their communities have more fire protection than those of England and Northern Ireland. This is something NFCC is asking for government to remedy.
In both Scotland and Wales Sprinklers are a requirement in new build care homes and schools, but not in England and Northern Ireland.
In warehouses sprinklers are required in new builds more than 20,000 m² or 14,000 m² in Scotland. As e-commerce is increasingly reliant on these types of buildings, to improve firefighter safety and bring the UK in line with much of Europe, this should be reduced to 4,000 m².
Fire sprinklers are widely recognised as the single most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in their early stages.
Research by the NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) found that sprinkler systems operate on 94% of occasions so are very reliable and when they do operate they extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasions. The result is sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80%, reduce property damage by 90% and substantially reduce damage to the environment from fire.
This also means that sprinkler systems help to protect the lives of firefighters as they respond to much smaller incidents - one of the reasons they are fully supported by fire services.
Steve Duffield, HFRS Director of Prevention and Protection explained the human and economic reasons why sprinklers are so essential in larger buildings:
"It is estimated the cost of a sprinkler system can be recovered over a period of about ten years through reduced insurance premiums and a less disruption to business continuity if a fire occurs.
Increased storage capacity of modern warehouses means increased fire loads. This can result in large fire incidents, which need lots of fire service resources. They can have negative impacts on supply chain and the environment. Sprinklers reduce these impacts and save lives and money."
Jonathan Dyson NFCC Lead for Sprinklers, said:
“The evidence speaks for itself; our research proves that sprinklers are very effective and provide strong fire safety protections as part of a fire safety package.
Wales and Scotland recognise this and have implemented some measures to make their communities safer from fire; we want to see these same changes in England and Northern Ireland as matter of urgency.
Fire does not discriminate and is just as dangerous no matter where you are in the UK.”