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23-05-19

Sprinklers reduce fire fatalities, injuries and damage to buildings significantly

Latest national research reveals that fire fatalities, injuries and damage to buildings is significantly reduced when sprinkler systems are fitted, according to the National Fire Chiefs Council.  

This research  which was carried out by NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network coincides with this year’s week-long national sprinkler campaign, which is now underway. Most UK fire and rescue servcies were involved in providing the data for this research. 

Key findings show:

  • Sprinklers have a role to play in reducing harm and protecting vulnerable people
  • People are four times safer and less likely to be harmed in a flat fire when sprinklers activate, making a compelling case for more sprinklers to be fitted in purpose-built blocks of flats
  • People are 50% less likely to be injured in a fire where sprinklers are present
  • When sprinklers operate, people are 30% less likely to be overcome by the effects of smoke, and also less likely to experience breathing difficulties
  • People are 22% less likely to need hospital treatment if there is a fire controlled by sprinklers 
  • Sprinklers also help to protect firefighters

This research backs up NFCC's call for a change in building regulations to ensure more sprinklers are fitted to protect lives, properties and businesses from fire. Currently, England and Northern Ireland have less protection than Wales and Scotland, this situation urgently needs to change.

Previous research - carried out by NFCC and National Fire Sprinkler Network - shows that sprinkler systems operate on 94% of occasions, and when they do operate sprinklers control or put out fires 99% of the time. Furthermore, sprinklers are 100% effective in controlling or extinguishing fire in purpose built and converted flats.

Additionally, the latest research carried out by NFCC on fire fatalities and injuries in sprinklered buildings confirmed findings of previous work and the case for fitting sprinklers in more buildings. The outcomes of this research will be published during its National Sprinkler Week campaign, on Thursday 23rd May.

 Similar sprinkler campaigns are also taking place across the world in America, Canada and Australia during the week.

Terry McDermott, NFCC lead for Sprinkler systems, said: "A change to building regulations in England and Northern Ireland is critical. NFCC wants to see an urgent government response to sprinkler regulations as we have seen with dangerous ACM cladding recently. 

"The evidence speaks for itself – sprinklers save lives, protect property, reduce the impact of fire on the environment and support UK businesses by reducing interruption.

"I recently met with the government to discuss the findings of our research and the case for changes to be made to building regulations with immediate effect."

NFCC has called on the government to change building regulations, in its response to the government’s consultation on Approved Document B (ADB).

Part of NFCC’s submission to government – based on its research and evidence – calls for the following protective measures as a matter of urgency:

  • Sprinklers to become a requirement in all new high-rise residential structures above 18 metres.
  • Sprinklers to be retrofitted as a matter of priority where existing high-rise residential buildings over 30 metres are served by a single staircase.
  • Sprinklers to be retrofitted in high-rise residential buildings above 30 metres (and are served by more than a single staircase) when these buildings are scheduled to be refurbished.
  • Sprinklers to be retrofitted in high-rise residential buildings over 18 metres on a risk assessed basis
  • Student accommodation, care homes and places where vulnerable people live.

 Notes to editor:

 The Welsh and Scottish governments provide stronger protections than in England and Northern Ireland:

  • Scotland: all new enclosed shopping centres, residential care buildings, high-rise domestic buildings above 18m, sheltered housing complexes, schools, and some warehouses must be fitted with sprinkler systems.
  • Wales: sprinklers are now a legislative requirement in all new residential premises including care premises.

NFCC response to ADB review

NFCC sprinkler position statement

Incidence of deaths and injuries in sprinklered buildings report 2019

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