Commercial Services
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Commercial Services
Sprinklers

Introduction

There is clear evidence that sprinklers can be effective in rapidly controlling and stopping the spread of fires.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are campaigning to inform, educate and promote the installation of sprinkler systems in both Domestic (Dwellings) and Non-Domestic (Commercial) premises.

Sprinklers play a positive role in protecting life, reducing the economic and environmental cost of fire in any building they are installed in.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service believe more focus should be directed to properties where the most significant impact can be achieved. We believe this includes;

  • Schools
  • Premises in rural or isolated areas
  • Residential care homes
  • Domestic premises housing the most vulnerable.

Sprinklers Can:

Good fire safety management saves lives and protects property

 

  • Reduce fire deaths and fire related injuries
  • Reduce the risk to firefighters
  • Protect property and heritage
  • Reduce the effects of arson
  • Reduce the environmental impact of fire
  • Reduce the cost and disruption to the community and business

 

Sprinklers activate when a certain level of heat is detected at ceiling level. The sprinklers then douse the fire with water localising the fire and restricting the spread. Only sprinklers within close proximity to the fire will be activated, meaning water will only be released in the places directly affected by the fire. They do not operate all at once as portrayed in the movies. Their un-doubtable life and property saving benefits are recognised by building regulators, the Fire and Rescue Service and the general public.

The picture below shows commercial premises that had a fire that was suppressed by a sprinkler system.

Damage with a sprinkler fitted

The next picture shows similar commercial premises that have had a fire without a sprinkler system fitted with devastating consequences.

Damage without a sprinkler fitted

Non-Domestic (Commercial) Properties

There is a compelling case to be made for sprinklers in any commercial premises on the basis of loss of production or interruption to business as this is a real impediment to business continuity and productivity. It is recognised that 85% of small and medium size businesses that suffer a serious fire either never recover or cease trading within 18 months. The installation of sprinklers in these types of premises could prevent this lose due to fire would reduce, and fewer businesses would be forced to relocate.

Sprinklers can now allow much more interesting use of space. New building codes work on a performance based approach to the safety of a building, so including sprinklers; designers can achieve greater freedom to fulfil their overall vision.

Stay Safe - Fit a commercial sprinkler system

Progress of a fire in commercial building

 

Case History

Sprinklers confine factory fire

Sprinklers helped to extinguish a fire at the TK Maxx factory on Dalewood road, Chesterton in the early hours of 2 May 2012 after fire broke out in a bailing machine. Crews from Newcastle, Ashley and Sandyford were automatically alerted to the fire at around 1.20am by the factories Automatic Fire Alarm System.

On arrival at the incident, crews found the sprinkler system had activated and contained the fire, around 36 on site members of staff, safely evacuated and waited outside whilst fire crews dealt with the incident.

A spokesperson for the Fire and Rescue Service said; “by the time we got there, the fire had been controlled by the sprinkler system. Fire crews opened up the machinery to fully extinguish the fire and cool the machine; we also used a Thermal Imaging Camera to check if the fire had spread to the main part of the building. The sprinklers however had done a fantastic job of keeping the fire contained to the machinery meaning only that piece of equipment had been damaged by fire”.

“The staff were able to resume work after we left the incident at just after 4.30am-had sprinklers not been fitted, the chances are that further equipment would have been damaged and work would have to be halted, there was also the danger of the fire spreading rapidly without sprinklers, the machine involved was used to compress cardboard which would catch fire and burn very quickly given the chance”.

Sprinklers fitted in both Domestic and Commercial properties have been proven to reduce the impact of fire on both human life and damage to property. They are potential life and property saving tool that have many benefits, however, there are common misconceptions about sprinklers that are stopping people installing them.

Facts

  • Only the sprinkler head(s) directly affected by fire will activate
  • Sprinklers attack the fire quickly and directly so less water is needed as they also operate the fire alarm, the flow can be quickly turned off when the fire is out
  • Operational smoke detectors do save lives, however they do nothing to extinguish a growing fire
  • The odds of winning the lottery are greater than the 16 million to one chance of a sprinkler malfunctioning.

Useful links

BAFSA: How Sprinklers Work

National Fire Sprinkler Network - http://www.nfsn.co.uk/newsflash.php

 

Water UK - http://www.water.org.uk/home/policy/positions/fire-sprinklers

Sprinklers - The Home Truths - YouTube

 

 

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