Fire Chiefs call for stronger requirements on sprinklers

  • Health & Safety
stronger requirements on sprinklers
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has published a statement calling on the Government to take action on increasing the use of sprinklers in UK buildings.

The NFCC propose that automatic water suppression systems (AWSS) are made part of the regulatory framework, in other words requiring businesses and landlords to install sprinklers in all new-builds and retrofit them in buildings over 11 metres in height, on a risk-assessed basis.

Expressing serious concern for certain types of buildings, the NFCC statement highlights the increased risk to care homes, where residents are more vulnerable to fire due to age, mobility issues, or cognitive impairments.

New residential buildings are now required to have sprinklers installed if they are over 11 metres in height. However, the NFCC deems it a “significant concern” that there is no such requirement to retrofit existing residential buildings.

Schools should also be required to install sprinklers, which would provide additional life safety benefits, protect property, and minimise disruption to schooling and communities.

Typically overlooked, car parks are also mentioned due to a heightened risk of structural collapse, endangering firefighters. Storage and warehouses have a high storage density, resulting in massive fires that are difficult or impossible for the Fire & Rescue Service to control.

Official guidance says hospitals should install sprinklers, but the NFCC calls this “a recommendation that hospitals are choosing to ignore.” Hospitals, with their high concentration of people, complex building layout and combustible materials, pose such a high risk that NFCC recommends sprinklers be mandated in every new hospital building, regardless of height.

The statement highlights that requirements in England “trail behind” the rest of the UK; In Scotland, sprinklers are required in all blocks of flats, care homes, social housing, and schools. All new single dwellings require sprinklers in Wales, including all new care homes, student halls of residence, boarding houses, and certain hostels.

Jonathan Dyson, NFCC Lead for Sprinklers and AWSS said:

“Sprinklers save lives and reduce injuries. They have been used for over one hundred years and are consistently reliable, protect property, reduce the cost of repairs, and minimise the impact of fire on the environment. Sprinklers can also buy crucial additional time in firefighting operations which may mean that evacuations are not necessary in the first place.”

Visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like When are fire sprinklers required in commercial buildings?

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