Sprinklers are 100% Effective in Controlling Fires
Every year, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) runs it’s National Sprinkler Week campaign from Sunday 19th May to Friday 24th May. National Sprinkler Week focuses on ensuring the public are informed about what sprinklers are, how they work and how effective they are, along with their many benefits. The campaign also raises awareness about how regulations regarding sprinklers vary across the UK.
In 2018 the NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) undertook research to ascertain the effectiveness and reliability of sprinkler systems. Their findings showed that sprinkler systems:-
- Are reliable, operating properly on 94% of occasions.
- 99% of the time, when they operate, they successfully contain or extinguish the fire.
- Sprinklers are 100% effective in controlling fires In both converted and purpose-built flats.
Sprinklers as Part of a Fire Safety Package
In a bid to encourage business owners, housing associations, schools and landlords to consider retro fitting sprinklers, the NFCC release the latest figures during National Sprinkler Week. These figures demonstrate that fire related fatalities and injuries along with property damage are reduced significantly in the presence of operational sprinklers.
The NFCC wants changes to government legislation regarding England’s sprinkler regulations, including bringing them in line with Scotland and Wales. Terry McDermott, NFCC lead for Sprinklers, said:
“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 measures to make their communities safer from fire; we want to see these changes in England and Northern Ireland as matter of urgency.
“Fire does not discriminate, and is just as dangerous in England and Northern Ireland as it is in the rest of the UK.”
Many fire and rescue services across the UK actively support the campaign using the hashtag #ThinkSprinkler. Sprinkler awareness campaigns are also held across the globe in America, Canada and Australia. There are a large collection of stories and anecdotes which give credence to the fact that sprinklers are the key to saving lives time and again.
One example being an incident in St James Barton, Bristol in January 2019. Crews from Southmead, Bedminster, Hicks Gate and Temple fire stations were called when fire broke out on the first floor of a commercial property. The sprinkler system had activated and helped to control the fire before crews arrived. The fire was extinguished by four fire fighters using one high pressure hose reel and one 45mm jet, then a positive pressure ventilation fan cleared the area of smoke. Approximately 400 people were evacuated from the premises and the incident was casualty free. The cause of the fire remains a mystery.
Sprinkler myths dispelled
- Myth – All the sprinkler heads go off at once when there is a fire.
Fact – Only the head(s) adjacent to the fire will activate as the heads are set off by heat rather than smoke
- Myth – Sprinklers can go off by accident.
Fact – The chance of this happening is around 16 million to one, as they will only activate once heat has increase beyond a certain point.
- Myth – Water can damage in the same way as a fire.
Fact – A sprinkler only discharges a fraction of the water discharged by a fire fighting hose, less than 5% in fact.
- Myth – Sprinkler systems are very expensive.
Fact – In new buildings a sprinkler system will typically cost around the same amount as carpeting the area. This is in contrast to a fire which can cost hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of pounds. Damage and losses to buildings fitted with sprinklers is only one tenth of that suffered by unprotected buildings. Plus insurance companies may offer discounts where sprinklers are used.