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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Sprinkler system installed at fire-damaged accommodation

02/11/2016

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Rob Barber with Russell House resident Tony Hancock
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Rob Barber with Russell House resident Tony Hancock

A sheltered housing scheme in Tamworth which was severely damaged by a blaze has now been renovated and fitted with a potentially life-saving sprinkler system.

"The fire itself was a very upsetting experience for the residents of Russell House and Affinity Sutton has worked closely with us to put measures in place to prevent such a situation occurring in the future. Sprinkler systems are heat activated, meaning that as soon as a blaze begins to take hold the sprinklers are instantly switched on to suppress the flames. This means that the risk to life is far lower and the damage to property is also minimised."

Fire Engineer Stuart Ruckledge

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has supported and advised housing association Affinity Sutton in retro-fitting the technology at Russell House, Bancroft.

All residents of the 24-bed property for people aged over 55 had to be evacuated in the wake of the fire last year and were provided with alternative accommodation during the refurbishment.

This was not only disruptive for the occupants but was also costly to Affinity Sutton which funded the temporary housing.

Fifteen of the original residents have now successfully moved back into their homes, safe in the knowledge that the sprinkler system will afford them extra protection should an emergency occur.

An open day was held at Russell House yesterday to celebrate the occupants’ return.

Fire Engineer Stuart Ruckledge, who advised on the installation of the sprinkler system, said: "The fire itself was a very upsetting experience for the residents of Russell House and Affinity Sutton has worked closely with us to put measures in place to prevent such a situation occurring in the future.

"Sprinkler systems are heat activated, meaning that as soon as a blaze begins to take hold the sprinklers are instantly switched on to suppress the flames. This means that the risk to life is far lower and the damage to property is also minimised.

"History shows that in 90 per cent of fires in buildings with sprinklers, only one head is activated which means that only the area where the fire has broken out is affected and, due to the fact that buildings protected by sprinklers are inherently safer, excess on insurance can be reduced. There are so many benefits to the sprinkler system that has been installed at Russell House and as a Service we are delighted that we have been able to advise Affinity Sutton on achieving a safer environment for its residents.”

Planned Investment Manager at Affinity Sutton Barry Platten added: "Thankfully nobody was hurt during the fire at Russell House and our housing management team worked swiftly to find suitable alternative accommodation for all of the residents and provided ongoing support. Our contractor Keepmoat has since done a fantastic job in bringing Russell House back to life. The safety of our residents is a top priority and we have been please to work with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to install new sprinklers as an extra measure within the restored scheme."