National Sprinkler Week

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This week is National Sprinkler Week which aims to highlight the critical role that sprinklers can play as part of a package of fire safety measures.  We have a total of 223 properties covered with sprinkler systems including flats and communal areas in 7 of our independent living schemes.

Fire sprinklers are widely recognised as the single most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in their early stages. NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) carried out research to investigate the effectiveness and reliability of sprinkler systems. They found that sprinkler systems:

  • Operate on 94% of occasions demonstrating very high reliability
  • When they do operate they extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasion
  • In both converted and purpose-built flats, sprinklers are 100% effective in controlling fires.

We wanted to share with you a few myths and facts:

Myths

  • When there is a fire all the sprinkler heads go off at once – Wrong. Each head is independent and only the head(s) adjacent to the fire go off.
  • Water damage is as bad as the fire damage – Wrong. A Typical sprinkler discharges 55 litres per minute. A firefighting hose discharges over 600 litres per minute. You can expect a sprinkler to discharge less than 5% of the water used by the fire service.
  • Sprinklers can go off accidentally – Wrong. Records show that the chance of an accidental discharge from a sprinkler is in the region of 16 million to one.
  • Sprinkler Systems are expensive – Wrong. It is estimated that the costs of a sprinkler system can be recovered over a period of about 10 years. This is achieved through reduced insurance premiums and in larger organisations through less disruption to business continuity when a fire occurs. Installed in a new building a sprinkler system should not cost more than 1-2% of the total build cost. To fit a system in an existing house will cost £2000.

Facts

  • Environmentally friendly – Sprinklers help to protect the environment by controlling a fire in its early stages, preventing airborne and water run-off pollution.
  • Sprinklers save water – Statistics show that widespread use of sprinklers could save up to 96% of the 5.6 billion litres of water used annually in the UK to fight large fires. This is equivalent to three months supply of water for the entire population of a city the size of Leeds.
  • Building design flexibility – Sprinklers can save on building costs because under Building Regulations larger compartment sizes may be constructed. Reduced boundary and extended distances to fire exists are also permitted.
  • Legal protection – Owner/occupiers/employers can be held legally responsible for the consequences of a fire if adequate fire precautions have not been taken. Sprinklers protect the lives of firefighters and are fully supported by fire services.
  • Easy to install – Sprinkler systems can be fitted into existing buildings. One company installed sprinklers into a major London Hotel whilst the hotel was over 95% occupied.
  • Reliability – Sprinkler systems have been proven in use for well over 100 years, during which time they have a 99% success rate worldwide. Systems over 100 years old are still in full working order today.
  • Popularity- There are 40 million sprinklers fitted worldwide each year.
  • Life safety record – In the UK there has never been a fire death in a building with a fully maintained sprinkler system.
  • Sprinklers save money – Losses from fires in buildings with sprinklers are estimated to be only one tenth of those in unprotected buildings.
  • Limited Water Damage – Firefighters often use 20 times more water from hoses to do the same job as a sprinkler. In tackling the Windsor Castle fire 7 million litres of water was used.
  • Cost effective to install –The cost of installing a sprinkler system is roughly equivalent to carpeting the same building. All the UK Royal Palaces could have sprinklers installed for the cost of the Windsor Castle fire.
  • Insurance discounts – Insurance companies can offer large discounts for buildings that are protected by sprinklers.