The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fixed Fire-fighting Systems – Part 3

April 12, 2017 9:15 am

In our blog series for those people who work in Facilities Management and have a responsibility for or interest in fire safety, we have been looking recently at fixed fire-fighting systems, which is systems in place in a building which are fixtures, rather than being portable in the way a fire extinguisher is. In Part 3, we will discuss sprinklers and on what basis they might be required.


Historically, sprinklers may have been a requirement for a certain type of building or a building in a certain place, local deviations have now been repealed. Currently, sprinklers may be a requirement of the building regulations to enable increased compartment sizes or building heights. It is noted that the requirement for sprinklers in recent amendments to the building regulations have become more onerous, with sprinklers more commonly required than previously.


Another commonly seen use of sprinklers is within high buildings where a phased evacuation plan is in use. Phased evacuation means that the floor of fire origin is evacuated immediately upon discovery of the fire, with the floors either side being evacuated next as necessary, and so on.


It is possible because of the fire-resistant nature of the building materials, helping to keep the fire and smoke in one area for a set period of time which is commonly of long enough duration to allow the Fire Service to attend and put out the fire. Sprinklers in a building such as this help to keep the fire under control until the Fire Service arrive.


The inclusion of sprinklers in a fire protected design within a building can result in substantial discounts of the premium of fire insurance, as long as the installation conforms to the requirements of the Loss Prevention Council ‘Rules for Automatic Sprinkler Installations’. This also means that the equipment installed must adhere to the standards laid out by the Loss Prevention Certification Board.


It is worth noting too, that in a new building, some insurers may require appropriate sprinkler protection to be installed as a condition of providing insurance at all.


Sprinklers are used in many other buildings such as those used for residential purposes. Building Regulations in Scotland now require automatic fire suppression systems to be installed in any new residential care homes, sheltered housing accommodation buildings and in blocks of flats which are greater than 18 metres in height. In England and Wales, Approved Document B requires the use of sprinklers in blocks of flats and non-residential buildings which measure more than 30 metres in height.


In part 4 of this series, we will continue looking at the uses of sprinkler systems in England and Wales. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.


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