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Knowledge Share: Does my building need fire sprinklers?

Oct 25, 2023

Does my building need sprinklers? Yes, it may well do! This is one of those questions that is not the simplest to answer. The thought behind this blog is to explore some of the aspects of automatic sprinkler systems to help you decide if you should have automatic sprinklers installed. This decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, as the investment required can be substantial, but the benefits speak for themselves. When considering sprinkler systems, you should consult with your fire risk assessor. When we carry out fire risk assessments, we always consider whether automatic sprinkler systems should be installed at a property as part of the process.

JCH Safety advocates the value of automatic sprinkler systems in the right circumstances. The evidence of their benefits is substantial. They are reliable and in 99% of cases they control or extinguish fires where they break out. Buildings with sprinkler systems are therefore far safer for their presence.

What are sprinkler systems?

Fire sprinklers are devices that spray water when the effects of a fire have been detected, such as when a predetermined temperature has been exceeded due to fire giving off heat. Fire sprinklers are used worldwide, with over 40 million sprinkler heads fitted each year. Fire sprinklers are part of a fire sprinkler system, which is an active fire protection method, consisting of a water supply system providing adequate pressure and flowrate to a water distribution piping system, to which fire sprinklers are connected. The sprinkler heads are the part of the system, that when activated, release water in a controlled and reliable way to wet the area below. When fire sprinklers activate, they usually do not lead to the full system of all the sprinkler heads activating. Instead, just sprinkler heads in the proximity of the fire activate. This means that the fire is controlled or extinguished with minimum damage to the building. In certain systems, there can be a requirement for rapid activation of all sprinklers due to the risk of a rapid fire phenomenon. If this is required, your fire alarm control equipment can be set up to activate the entire system. Again, this is something that can be designed into the system with the assistance of your fire risk assessor.

What are the benefits of having fire sprinklers?

Fire sprinklers save lives, homes, and businesses by providing protection from fire damage and giving people a greater chance of getting out if there is a fire. Fire sprinklers also offer significant design benefits, such as enabling more open plan designs and reducing the need for fire doors and self-closing doors in some circumstances. Fire sprinklers can be installed in different types of buildings, such as commercial, residential, industrial, educational, healthcare, heritage, and many more. The requirements for fire sprinkler systems vary depending on the type, size, and location of the building, as well as the fire safety regulations and standards that apply to it. Remember, that buildings that suffer fires which are not protected by automatic sprinkler systems, are more likely to suffer a catastrophic fire than those with sprinklers.

Should they be installed?

The answer depends on the type, size, and location of your building, as well as the fire safety regulations and standards that apply to it. There is not always a simple yes or no answer for most buildings and the process of determining the correct answer can be complicated. That is why it is always important to consult specialist fire risk assessors and building experts. Certain buildings should be fitted with sprinkler systems such as buildings with large open areas which are un-compartmented. This is a legal requirement. For residential buildings, blocks of flats with a top storey more than 11 meters above ground level, should also be fitted with a sprinkler system throughout the building. There are many other scenarios where sprinklers systems are beneficial and a good fire risk assessor will advice the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in certain areas. There is obviously a case in favour of automatic sprinklers for schools, hospitals and medical facilities, nursing homes, manufacturing plants and areas containing vital information storage.

What to do next?

Arrange to consult with your fire risk assessor to discuss your risk profile and the benefits of having a sprinkler system installed. If you haven’t got an up to date fire risk assessment, carried out in the last 12 months, contact us to get one booked in. JCH Safety are qualified, experienced and third party accredited fire risk assessors. We are experienced in carrying out fire risk assessments for a large range of properties including carrying out fire risk assessments for schools, production facilities and warehouses amongst many others. We regularly carry out assessments for pubs, working mens clubs, colleges and medical practices too. Get in touch for a free quotation.

Contact JCH Safety for all your health and safety needs – working in Coventry, Warwickshire and the West Midlands