HWFRS offers its support to National Sprinkler Week campaign

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Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) National Sprinkler Week campaign.

Working with BAFSA (the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association), the campaign runs from 16 – 22 May, to raise awareness of the benefits of sprinkler systems in keeping people and buildings safe from fire.

NFCC are particularly concerned about new build schools, care homes and warehousing.

Building regulations differ across these building types across the UK despite the evidence showing that these non-sprinklered buildings can often lead to large scale incidents which impact local communities resulting in loss of property and economic resilience.

In care homes there is not only the risk of losing a critical community building but a risk to vulnerable people.

Despite this, there is some disparity in building regulations and sprinkler systems across the UK. 

The legislation in Wales and Scotland is stricter across many building types meaning their communities have more fire protection than those of England and Northern Ireland. 

This is something NFCC is asking for government to remedy.

In both Scotland and Wales, sprinklers are a requirement in new build care homes and schools, but not in England and Northern Ireland.

In warehouses, sprinklers are required in new builds more than 20,000 m² or 14,000 m² in Scotland. 

As e-commerce is increasingly reliant on these types of buildings, to improve firefighter safety and bring the UK in line with much of Europe, this should be reduced to 4,000 m².

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

Research by the NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) found that sprinkler systems operate on 94% of occasions, so are very reliable and when they do operate they extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasions. 

The result is sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80%, reduce property damage by 90% and substantially reduce damage to the environment from fire.

This also means that sprinkler systems help to protect the lives of firefighters as they respond to much smaller incidents – one of the reasons they are fully supported by fire services.

In Herefordshire & Worcestershire, between Jan 2012 and Dec 2021, there were 6,139 Primary Building fires (3,777 dwelling fires, 277 other residential and 2,085 non-residential).

Of these, 163 primary building fires had an active safety system present, 77 of which were sprinklers or water misters.

The majority of primary building fires in which sprinklers or water misters were present was in non-residential buildings (73 incidents or 95%), one was an ‘Other Residential’ building fire, and three occurred in dwelling building fires.

65% of all primary building fires with sprinklers or water misters had less than five square metres worth of fire damage (50 incidents), while 18% had no fire damage at all (14 incidents).

Group Commander Thom Morgan, from the Service’s Protection Department, said:

“It’s encouraging that the number of primary building fires in Herefordshire and Worcestershire has fallen from the previous ten-year figure (one year back) of 6,413, but concerning that the number where an active safety system was present remains at just over 160.

“It’s important that sprinkler systems are fitted where relevant and checked on a regular basis.”

To find out more about the campaign go to https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/Sprinkler-Week
and follow #ThinkSprinkler on social media.

Jonathan Dyson NFCC Lead for Sprinklers, said:

“The evidence speaks for itself; 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 some measures to make their communities safer from fire; we want to see these same changes in England and Northern Ireland as matter of urgency.

Fire does not discriminate and is just as dangerous no matter where you are in the UK.”

To find out more about the campaign go to https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/Sprinkler-Week
and follow #ThinkSprinkler on social media.