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Impact of sprinkler systems

shutterstock 69868309Fire safety professionals often promote the use of sprinkler systems. This is due to the fact that they have been proven to help reduce the impact of fire and can help save lives.

Sprinkler systems provide fire suppression, slowing the growth of a fire or sometimes extinguishing it completely. This provides occupants valuable time, often allowing them to escape the building unharmed. Sprinkler systems can also help protect the fabric of the building and its assets.

There is often scepticism surrounding the effectiveness of sprinkler systems. Many believe the water damage caused when activated, outweighs the positive impacts. However sprinklers operate via heat sensors and only sprinklers within the immediate vicinity of a fire will activate. The amount of water used by sprinklers is also significantly lower than that used by the fire brigade to put out an equivalent fire. In the majority of cases damage is minimal in comparison to the potential damage the fire could have caused.

The effectiveness of sprinkler systems can be seen in a recent incident where the careless disposal of a cigarette led to a fire at a residential care home. The brigade was called to the flat but by the time they arrived the sprinkler system had already extinguished the fire allowing the elderly occupant to escape the building unharmed. Sutton fire station manager Richard Field said “This close call shows just how vital sprinklers are in care homes and sheltered accommodation, they not only stop fire from spreading, they save lives.”[1]

A similar incident occurred in a complex containing more than 60 apartments in Stouton. A fire caused by grease on a stove broke out in one of the apartments but by the time the brigade arrived the sprinkler system had already activated extinguishing the fire and allowing the occupants to evacuate the building. Fire Chief Gregory Goldberg commented “When we got in, it was completely extinguished, the fire didn’t extend through the ceiling. The sprinkler took care of it.”[2]    

Both these incidents highlight the benefits of having a sprinkler system installed. However it is vitally important that the system is tested and maintained regularly to make sure that the water supplies, valves, alarm bell and fire appliances are in proper working order. There are penalties for non-compliance. In many buildings where sprinkler systems have been installed as part of the build, the design of the building and the other fire protection elements will rely heavily on the system. The sprinkler system will play a critical role in protecting the building and its occupants, in the event of an emergency.

The maintenance and testing of your sprinkler system must be undertaken by a competent specifically trained individual. Metro Safety have a nationwide team of qualified professionals who can test and maintain your sprinkler system helping you fulfil your insurance requirements by identifying any possible impediments and ensuring its proper functioning in the event of a fire.

To find out more information please call 0845 058 9999.

[1] London Fire Brigade

[2] Enterprise News


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