Older people, people with mental health problems and those with mobility issues are groups that are most at risk from fire. We consider that all residential care homes should be fitted with sprinklers. 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 we think that there should be the same level of protection throughout Britain.
Hundreds of schools in the UK have a fire each year. The impact of these fires is significant, not just in financial terms, but also in terms of the devastating effect on the communities they serve and the disruption to students, teachers and families. The effects on children’s education are not confined to lost course work but often include longer travelling times, disrupted social groups and poorer facilities. 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).
Fires in the home still account for the greatest number of fire deaths and injuries each year. While it would be ideal for all domestic premises to have sprinklers, it is recognised that this is not practical or realistic. We advocate the fitting of sprinklers in the homes of people most at risk from fire – younger people, older people, people with mental health problems and those who have mobility problems. We work in partnership with developers, local authorities and social housing landlords to encourage the installation of sprinklers in the homes of the most vulnerable people.
There is a compelling case to be made for sprinklers in any commercial premises on the basis of loss of production or interruption to business as this is a real impediment to business continuity and productivity. It is a recognised fact that 85 per cent of small and medium businesses that suffer a serious fire either never recover or cease trading within 18 months. The installation of sprinklers in these types of premises could prevent this. Losses due to fire would reduce and fewer businesses would be forced to relocate.
As you can see Fire suppression is the most effective way to ensure that fires are controlled or even extinguished before the fire service can arrive.
In the last 12 months, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) have worked together to investigate the effectiveness and reliability of sprinkler systems.
The evidence produced indicates that sprinkler systems operate on 94 per cent of occasions demonstrating very high reliability. Furthermore, it is evident that when they do operate they extinguish or contain the fire on 99 per cent of occasions and are thus very effective.
The research also found that in both converted and purpose built flats that sprinklers are 100 per cent effective in controlling fires.
Sprinklers have been proven to reduce the impact of fire. They are a potentially life saving tool that bring many benefits. There are some common misconceptions about sprinklers that are stopping people installing them. It is important that these sprinkler myths are dispelled.