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Why sprinkler systems are a good idea

Over recent months, there have been numerous high profile fires across the United Kingdom, such as the awful events at Grenfell Tower, and the New Years Eve car park fire near Liverpool Arena.

There is lots of talk about if sprinklers had been fitted at events like these, the fires would have been far less damaging to property, the buildings, and most importantly, to human life.

I do not wish to go into the reasons they were not installed at these locations at this time, partly because formal investigations are still ongoing, however these fires have raised the profile of spinkler systems in the media.

According to Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service, there has never been a single fire death in a property that had sprinklers fitted.

Since 2013, in Wales, all new 'domestic premises' are required to have a fire suppression system installed. In Scotland, it is compulsory for sprinklers to be fitted in buildings above 18m, all schools, care homes and sheltered accommodation. There is no such legislation in England.

If a room catches fire, within 30 seconds, the smoke alarm goes off. After 2 minutes 30 seconds, the ceiling temperature reaches 100C. If fitted, this triggers a sprinkler system. Within a minute, the sprinklers usually have brought the fire under control, well before the fire service arrive. With no sprinkler system in place, room temperature would be 600C and anyone in the room will be dead, and within nine minutes, when the fire service arrives, a whole building can be alight, and toxic smoke and heat is unbearable.

Rather than destroying a building and life, a sprinkler system will only cause water damage - and even then it uses far less water than the fire service would use.

I hope, after legal wranglings relating to Grenfell Tower and other fires, that the law is changed in England as well, and that new build, and major refurbishment works of existing buildings are forced to include a fire suppression system, like Wales and Scotland have done.

If you have a business, where your risk assessments have highlighted a reasonably high risk of fire, and you have not got a sprinkler system in place, I recommend you consider retro-fitting a system. Not only could this protect your business, but it could also save the lives of your employees and customers.

According to Risk Analysis and the Security Survey (Eugene Tucker, James F. Broder) 64-70% of businesses involved in a major fire go out of business.

So the question is, why take the risk?

Subnote: KSH Safety Services is not affiliated in any way to any company in the sprinkler system industry, however we can help you with fire risk assessments and training.

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