RBFRS Encourages the Installation of Sprinklers as part of National Sprinkler Week

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service is supporting this week’s National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) National Sprinkler Week campaign (17 – 23 May), promoting the benefits of sprinklers in keeping people and buildings safe from fire.

Sprinklers are widely recognised as the single most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in their early stages.

Sprinkler systems can also protect property and increase sustainability, but more critically, they can save lives, including the lives of firefighters. The installation of sprinklers means that firefighters will respond to smaller incidents.

Research by the NFCC and National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) found that when a sprinkler system operates, they extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasions. As a result, sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80% and reduce property damage by 90%.

Tregear Thomas, Area Manager for Prevention and Protection, said: “Despite the misconceptions, sprinklers are highly reliable systems, which are proven to prevent the spread of fire or even fully extinguish it before the fire and rescue service arrive, as well as reducing the risk of injury.

“Sprinklers are a hugely effective way of saving lives and protecting property and the environment, so we would encourage building owners and developers to install sprinklers where possible to help reduce the impact of fire.”

Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “During this week it is important that we actively promote the benefits of sprinkler systems across Royal Berkshire. Sprinkler systems are an excellent means of containing or extinguishing fires before firefighters even arrive at the property, but more crucially and critically – they save lives.”

Despite the benefits of sprinkler systems, some may have reservations due to a number of misconceptions. Some of these are:

  • Sprinklers are hugely expensive.
    Actually, the cost of installing sprinklers is roughly equivalent to carpeting the same building in new buildings. However, damage from fires can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds – sometimes running into millions of pounds. Losses from fires in buildings protected with sprinklers, in comparison, is estimated to be one-tenth of those in unprotected buildings. Fitting sprinklers can save money in some areas – insurers will often offer premium discounts to premises with sprinkler systems, and policy excesses may be lower.
  • When there is a fire all the sprinkler heads go off at once. 
    Each head is independent and only the head(s) adjacent to the fire go off as the heads are activated by heat and not smoke.
  • Sprinklers can go off accidentally.
    Records show that the chance of an accidental discharge from a sprinkler is in the region of 16 million to one. They will only go off if there is a fire which increases the heat beyond the defined sprinkler trigger point (typically 135 to 165°F (57.2 to 73.9°C).

  • Water damage is as bad as the fire damage.
    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 and rescue service.

To find out more about sprinklers and their benefits, download the Think Sprinkler Brochure.

Any business seeking advice on fire safety can also contact their local Fire Safety Office, the details of which are available online: Safety at Work website page.

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