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Sprinklers

There is clear evidence that sprinklers can be effective in rapidly controlling and stopping the spread of fires.

Quickfire sprinkler facts:

The National Fire Chiefs Council Sprinkler Week runs every May to raise awareness of the benefits of sprinkler systems in keeping people and buildings safer from fire as we encourage people to #ThinkSprinkler

 

As a Service, we actively promote the inclusion of fire sprinklers within homes as well as in commercial or public buildings, such as schools. We also work with our local authority building control departments and other partners to consider the use of sprinklers where appropriate.

Why do we promote the use of sprinklers?

Sprinklers are instrumental in reducing fire-related fatalities and injuries. By swiftly responding to the early stages of a fire, they provide critical time for occupants to evacuate, minimizing the potential loss of life and ensuring the well-being of individuals within the affected space.

The deployment of sprinkler systems significantly reduces the risks faced by firefighters during their operations. By containing or extinguishing fires before they escalate, sprinklers create a safer environment for firefighting personnel, diminishing the likelihood of life-threatening situations.

Sprinklers act as a formidable line of defence against the destruction of property and cultural heritage. By suppressing fires at their origin, these systems prevent the widespread devastation that could otherwise occur, safeguarding both modern structures and historical landmarks.

Arson poses a significant threat to property and lives. Sprinkler systems act as a deterrent to arsonists by swiftly responding to incipient fires, limiting their ability to cause extensive damage. This not only protects targeted properties but also discourages malicious intent.

Fires, especially those involving hazardous materials, contribute to environmental degradation. Sprinklers mitigate the environmental impact of fires by containing them at their source, preventing the release of pollutants and harmful substances that can adversely affect air and water quality.

The economic toll of fires on communities and businesses can be substantial. Sprinkler systems help minimize these costs by curbing the extent of fire damage. This, in turn, reduces the financial burden on affected individuals, businesses, and the broader community. Additionally, the swift suppression of fires by sprinklers minimizes disruptions to daily activities and operations.

Non-domestic (commercial) properties

There is a compelling case to be made for sprinklers in any commercial premises on the basis of loss of production or interruption to business. It is recognised that 85% of small and medium size businesses that suffer a serious fire either never recover or cease trading within 18 months.

The installation of sprinklers in these types of premises could prevent this loss, and fewer businesses would be forced to relocate or close.

Sprinklers can now allow much more interesting use of space. New building codes work on a performance-based approach to the safety of a building, so including sprinklers enables designers to achieve greater freedom to fulfil their overall vision.

Sprinklers myths and reality

There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding sprinkler systems. Here are some common ones:

  1. Myth: All Sprinklers Activate Simultaneously.
    • Reality: Modern sprinkler systems are designed to activate individually, triggered by heat in the specific area affected by the fire. This means only the sprinkler(s) closest to the fire will activate.
  2. Myth: Sprinklers Are Easily Accidentally Triggered.
    • Reality: Sprinklers are heat-sensitive and require a specific temperature to activate. They are not triggered by smoke, cooking vapours, or burnt toast. There is only a one in 16 million chance of a sprinkler malfunctioning.
  3. Myth: Water Damage from Sprinklers Is Worse Than Fire Damage.
    • Reality: Sprinklers are highly effective in controlling and suppressing fires with minimal water usage. The water damage caused by sprinklers is typically much less than the damage that would result from an uncontrolled fire.
  4. Myth: Sprinklers Are Only Needed in Commercial Buildings.
    • Reality: Sprinklers are beneficial in various settings, including residential homes. They can prevent the rapid spread of fire and provide valuable time for occupants to evacuate.
  5. Myth: Smoke Detectors Alone Are Sufficient for Fire Protection.
    • Reality: While smoke detectors are important, they only provide an alert but do not actively suppress fires. Sprinklers complement smoke detectors by quickly responding to a fire and helping to control or extinguish it.
  6. Myth: Sprinklers Are Unsightly and Decrease Property Value.
    • Reality: Modern sprinkler systems can be discreetly designed and integrated into the building’s aesthetics. Studies have shown that the presence of sprinklers can enhance property value by improving safety.
  7. Myth: Sprinklers Are Expensive and High-Maintenance.
    • Reality: The cost of installing and maintaining sprinkler systems has decreased over the years. Additionally, the potential savings in property and lives far outweigh the initial investment.
  8. Myth: Sprinklers Release Toxic Chemicals.
    • Reality: Sprinklers typically release water, not chemicals. Some specialized systems may use environmentally friendly fire suppressants, but these are not toxic and are carefully regulated.

Dispelling these myths is crucial to promoting a better understanding of the effectiveness and benefits of sprinkler systems in enhancing fire safety.

We will continue to lobby for these life and property saving systems to become the norm in terms of building design considerations in both new build and substantially altered buildings.

We have no doubt that wider inclusion of these lifesaving systems in our homes and businesses will make a positive and sustainable improvement to the overall safety of our community.

For more information:

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