Making the case for sprinkler protection
There is clear evidence that sprinklers are a valuable business risk reduction feature that can quickly extinguish a fire and help prevent it from spreading. A properly installed sprinkler system will detect the fire’s heat, initiate an alarm, and activate just moments after the flames appear.
Written by Paul Brown on 29th May 2019
Incorporating a sprinkler system in a building can offer the following benefits:
- Reducing death and injury from fire.
- Protecting property and heritage.
- Reducing fire costs and the disruption to the community and the business.
- Reducing the environmental impact of fire
- Reduce the risks to firefighters.
There is a compelling case to be made for sprinklers, in any commercial premises, on the basis that loss of production or interruption to the business is a real threat to continuity and productivity. There is much conjecture over the actual percentage of businesses that fail or cease trading within a few years of suffering a serious fire, suffice to say the number is significant and the installation of sprinklers could have prevented this.
According to UK fire statistics for England, there were 686* fires in schools in 2016/17. The Association of British Insurers say the most expensive school fires typically cost around £2.8 million to address and, over the last four years, an average of 24 of these large loss fires have occurred every year totalling £67.2million.
The impact of these fires is significant, not only the huge financial costs such as rebuilding, temporary relocation, loss of equipment and pupils’ academic work, but also in terms of the devastating effect on the communities they serve and the disruption to students, teachers and families.
If sprinklers were considered at the design stage of building a new school or the refurbishment of existing buildings, the costs can be kept to a minimum (as low as one per cent of build costs).
Residential Care Homes
Elderly people, people with mental health problems and those with mobility issues are groups that are most at risk from fire. In Scotland there is already a requirement within Building Standards for all new build residential care buildings to have automatic fire suppression systems installed and the protection provided by the alarm raised by the activation of a sprinkler head would benefit those at risk throughout the UK.
Preventing Damage to the Environment
A rather less obvious advantage of a Sprinkler system is a positive for the environment. Not only does sprinkler protection offer the increased sustainability and life expectancy of a building, it also reduces the amount of smoke, CO2 and other pollutants. Sprinklers can also use much less water to extinguish a fire than a hose and potentially lead to much less water damage.
New building codes work on a performance-based approach to the safety of a building, so by including sprinklers, designers can achieve greater freedom to fulfil their overall vision. Sprinklers can allow much more interesting and better use of space and encourage innovative, inclusive and sustainable architecture.
This can include features such
- Larger compartment sizes.
- More open spatial designs.
- Reducing exit door widths.
- Reducing periods of fire resistance to elements of structure.
- Reducing constraints such as distances between buildings.
If you would like to discuss this matter further then please get in touch with your usual Franklands’ contact on 01332 545720.