Facilities managers at commercial, educational and public sector premises are being reminded of the essential role of sprinklers in saving lives and protecting property during National Sprinkler Week this week.
The week, which kicks off on May 16, is one of a number of awareness campaigns promoted by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of ensuring such systems are in place, compliant and regularly maintained.
Figures show that commercial fires cost the UK economy around £2 billion a year, with the Department for Communities and Local Government putting the cost of a fire fatality at around £1.65 million.
Research carried out by the NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN), shows sprinklers extinguish or contain 99 per cent of fire outbreaks.
CDS has been designing, installing, commissioning and maintaining sprinklers, usually as part of a wider fire safety system, for more than 30 years for commercial, public sector, health, education and large-scale residential organisations.
While sprinklers are a legal requirement for some large commercial premises, they are not obligatory in many cases, including schools.
The NFCC, which says around 1,500 fires a year break out in schools across the UK, has been calling for legislation to make them obligatory in new and refurbished schools for several years.
It says the rate of schools being fitted with sprinklers may have fallen from 70% to as low as 15% of new builds, with the Association of British Insurers saying the most expensive school fires cost around £2.8 million to rectify.
CDS MD Simon Abley suggests sprinkler systems are ideally used in tandem with other fire safety measures.
‘We are concerned by the number of schools who either do not have monitoring in place or have monitoring in place that doesn’t comply with regulations. With arson attacks predominantly taking place when the school is closed those without an early warning system will not know the building is on fire until often hours after the blaze starts and the alarm is raised by a member of the public who sees it out of their window in the middle of the night,” he said.
“We are now seeing some schools choosing the latest technology which means fire alarms can be monitored away from the premises and in accordance with British Standards. Such products use 4G networks or the internet, with the signals transmitted to a remote monitoring centre.”