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How sprinkler systems work and reasons to install them.

Automatic fire sprinkler systems are an active fire protection method used worldwide, with over 40 million sprinkler heads fitted each year. Automatic fire sprinkler systems are designed to use as little water as possible at the very early stage of a fire's development. Having a sprinkler system is like having a firefighter in every room of your home or business. The aim is to contain and control a fire within seconds of it breaking out.

Fire sprinklers are now installed in lots of different premises to help protect them from fire, including warehouses, factories, offices, care homes, student accommodation, hospitals, libraries, and other commercial premises.

Why should you install sprinklers in your premises?

Sprinkler systems can help save lives, home, businesses and protect the environment.

  • They minimise the damage to property
  • They give people a greater chance of getting out in the event of a fire
  • They provide cover to your premises 24/7, even if the premises is unoccupied
  • They reduce fire death and risk of injury - in the UK there has never been a fire death in a building with a fully maintained sprinkler system.
  • They control (if not extinguish) a fire, reducing building damage
  • They reduce the environmental impact of having a fire
  • They reduce the risk to firefighters who enter the building
  • They reduce average property loss by up to 70%

Who should fit sprinkler systems?

Sprinklers provide enhanced protection and start fighting fire as soon as they are activated to lessen the impact of fire in many ways. All businesses can benefit from having a sprinkler system installed, including:

  • Care homes
  • Hospitals
  • Warehouses
  • Heritage buildings
  • Hotels
  • Student accommodation
  • Schools

In buildings where sprinklers are fitted, the risk of death or injury is greatly reduced. 

How do sprinklers work?

  • Sprinklers automatically apply water to a developing fire to help control and contain the fire, seconds after it has broken out.
  • Sprinkler systems are alerted, and then activated by the intense heat caused by the fire. Only the sprinkler head which is closest to the fire will be activated and will activate to attack the fire, meaning the rest of the building doesn’t suffer from water damage.
  • Sprinkler systems typically use 40-60 litres of water per minute to control the fire. By way of contrast, a firefighting hose used by the Fire Service typically uses around 500 litres per minute. This means that in the event of a fire in a sprinklered building, less water is used to control and contain the fire, which results in less water damage.

Sprinklers help protect your premises and reduce the risk of injury or fire death.

Dispelling sprinkler myths

  • Sprinklers are relatively inexpensive to install, accounting for approximately 1-3% of the cost of a new build.
  • Fire sprinklers will only operate in the vicinity of a fire, they do not all operate at the same time.
  • Statistics show that the likelihood of automatic fire sprinklers activating accidently is negligible – they operate differently to smoke alarms.

For more information, you can visit the National Fire Sprinkler Network or the Fire Protection Association websites.

If you would like to speak in more detail about sprinkler systems, please give our Business Support Team a call on 01473 260588 and ask to speak to the Duty Fire Safety Officer.