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National Sprinkler Week: Is your business protected by a sprinkler system?

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is urging businesses throughout the county to #ThinkSprinkler and make sure they are protected by sprinkler systems.

The call comes as part of National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) National Sprinkler Week campaign, which runs from 18 - 24 May, and raises awareness of the benefits of sprinkler systems in keeping people and buildings safer from fire.

Sprinkler systems are by far the most effective tool in helping prevent a fire from developing, they can save lives and can reduce the cost of fire damage in a home or business by thousands of pounds.

Research by the NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) found that sprinkler systems operate on 94% of occasions and when they do, they extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasions.

The result is sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80%, reduce property damage by 90% and substantially reduce damage to the environment from fire. This also means that sprinkler systems help to protect the lives of firefighters and that is another reason why they are fully supported by fire services.

In 2014 ECFRS set up a fund of £250,000 to support the retro fitting of sprinklers in high risk premises within Essex, to help make sure that the homes where the most vulnerable people live are protected by sprinkler systems.

The funding is available to Local Authorities, Housing Associations and Charities and those at highest risk will be given priority access to the fund.

Mark Earwicker, Head of Technical Fire Safety, said: 

“Sprinkler fire suppression systems offer unrivalled fire protection. We have seen fires which could have caused devastation and instead has been stopped in its tracks.

“Sprinkler systems activate quickly and, more often than not, contain the fire to the room where it started and limits the damage caused.

“Fires can devastate businesses but those with sprinkler systems are in a much better position to recover following a fire. In many cases they are able to re-open the day after the fire thanks to sprinklers limiting the fire spread and damage.

“As well as commercial properties, sprinklers are an unrivalled way of protecting blocks of flats and sheltered accommodation, and our scheme has seen hundreds of people live more safely in their home thanks to sprinkler protection. ”

Are sprinklers really effective?

In March 2016 a potentially devastating kitchen fire was stopped in its tracks thanks to a sprinkler system fitted through the ECFRS’s matched funding scheme.

When a chip pan caught light on the hob of a flat on the 13th floor of the Parkside Court tower block, Chelmsford, the sprinkler system activated dousing the flames and containing the fire to the kitchen where it started, preventing the blaze from growing and spreading.

This fire could easily have spread and caused a huge amount of damage and risked lives but because the sprinkler activated it was contained to the kitchen.

Challenging the myths

There are some common misconceptions about sprinklers that might put many people off:

  • If one sprinkler goes off, so do the rest, causing water damage in the whole building. False - Only the sprinklers in the area of the fire will go off, preventing the fire from spreading to other rooms.
  • They go off when there isn’t a fire. The chances of this are rare, modern sprinklers will not go off unless they’re exposed to the kind of extreme temperatures generated by a fire, burning your toast won’t do it. 
  • Sprinklers are unsightly and so unsuitable for the home. Wrong again – modern sprinklers can be made to blend with your walls and ceiling.

To find out more and apply for matched funding visit essex-fire.gov.uk/sprinklers


Page last updated 13 May, 2020

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