Adding sprinklers to the fire safety mix
Wed 09 2017
Recent tragic events have put fire safety issues in the spotlight – including the use of automatic fire sprinkler systems. Fire experts say there is clear evidence that sprinklers can play a key role in stopping fires from spreading and putting them out quickly, reducing death and injury, damage to property and the risk to firefighters.
It is particularly worth contemplating the installation of sprinkler systems in care homes, hospitals, schools, historic buildings, commercial premises or places where vulnerable people may be in residence.
But beware that to install one, you have to be a qualified plumber and a qualified fire safety electrician, as the system needs to be connected to the building’s fire panel.
Besides saving lives, sprinklers:
- Tackle fires when they are small and more easily controllable
- Limit the amount of smoke and fumes produced
- Drastically reduces the damage caused by a fire and therefore minimises disruption
- Are not expensive to install
- Have low maintenance costs
Cheshire Fire Service has highlighted a case from earlier this year where a sprinkler system helped prevent a major fire at a medical distribution company which broke out in the early hours of the morning.
It contained the fire to one area, and although some stock was damaged the majority was saved and the firm was back in operation within a couple of days.
There are also some myths which need to be put right when it comes to sprinklers:
- If there is a fire, all the sprinklers in a building do not go off – only the ones near the fire.
- They reduce, not increase the amount of water damage: A typical sprinkler uses 55 litres of water a minute – a hose uses over 600 litres a minute.
- Records also show that the chance of accidental damage from a sprinkler going off is in the region of 16 million to one – you’re more likely to win the lottery!
But perhaps the most pertinent fact when it comes to sprinklers is that, in the UK, there has never been a fire death in a building with a fully maintained system.