London Fire Brigade


Sprinklers or Automatic Water Fire Suppression Systems (AWFSS) can save lives, properties and money.


How do sprinklers work?

Sprinklers react to heat. When the temperature in a room fitted with a sprinkler reaches 60 – 70 degrees the sprinkler will spray water across the room and suppress the fire causing the rise in temperature

Sprinklers are triggered one by one where the rise in temperature occurs. They don’t all go off together throughout a building like in the movies.

Where should sprinklers and fire suppression systems be fitted?

Sprinklers can provide protection from fire damage; give people with mobility issues a greater chance of getting out if there is a fire. There are many organisations and properties that could benefit.

• Schools
• Care homes or places where people with any mobility issues live
• Heritage buildings
• Hospitals
• Very vulnerable people

How much do sprinkler systems cost

There has long been a myth that sprinkler systems are very expensive. Of course costs will very depending on the type of system you buy, but automatic fire suppression systems can cost as little as the carpeting for a property.

What the benefits of sprinklers?

Building design

To make a building safe from fire compartmentation needs to be in place to stop the spread of fire. This can sometimes restrict the design of the building`s internal layout. If sprinklers are fitted, the restrictions can be less, so a designer has more freedom with the internal space of the building.

Vulnerable people

Sprinklers can give a person with mobility issues a lot more time to escape if there is a fire, which is the main issue when even a small fire occurs. Having sprinklers fitted in care homes or specialised housing can allow for a reduction in night staff, so reducing the businesses costs. 


Warehouses, local authorities, hotels, heritage buildings can all benefit from fitting sprinklers in their properties.
Sprinklers can provide time for staff and customers to escape if a fire breaks out. They also protect the properties themselves from further fire damage.


 Schools are one of the property types where the most significant benefits can be achieved by sprinklers  due to the impact of fire not only on students but also the surrounding population when a community resource is lost.

Building Bulletin 100: Design for fire safety in schools, 2007 includes a expectation that ‘all new schools should have fire sprinklers installed except in a few low risk schools’.  To this end we continue to work with schools, colleges and education authorities to ensure that the benefits of sprinklers are fully considered

What is the current law on Sprinklers?

The regulations around the United Kingdom differ slightly. In England, for life safety it is compulsory to install AWFSS in:

• New residential blocks over 30m high
• Uncompartmented areas of shops or self storage buildings with an open plan area over 2000m2

To meet Approved Document B standards, corresponding regulations apply to large single storey buildings where the largest permitted unsprinklered compartment is 20,000m2. (Buildings used for storage/distribution)
Further information about the current legislation is available on the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) website

Personal Protection Watermist Systems

A self contained watermist system is essentially a sprinkler system in one room of a building, for one person. These systems are designed for people who spend most of their time confined to a specific area of their home. Watermist systems use a spray of fine water droplets that can surprises a fire by cooling, wetting and displacing oxygen

Who are Watermist systems for?

Past causes of fatal fires in places where people live show that a significant percentage of victims have a physical or mental impairment that makes them unaware of, or unable to respond to, a fire in their home

Further guidance can be found in the publication for assessing and identifying `priority` people whose level of risk warrants additional measures such as Personal Protection Systems. Assisting  social housing providers in fire risk management strategies for vulnerable clients

“Guidance on the use, deployment and limitations of Personal Protection Watermist Systems in the homes of vulnerable people”

Automatic Water Fire Suppression Systems consultation

London Fire Brigade is one of the leading campaigners on sprinklers. We have experts on hand to answer questions and give advice.
One of our sprinkler coordinators can help if you have any other questions, contact them on

More resources

• Building Bulletin 100, Design for Fire Safety in Schools as issued by the Department for Education in 2007
• Specialised Housing Guidance – published by NFCC – provides guidance on recommended standards for housing with vulnerable people.
• Efficiency and Effectiveness of Sprinkler Systems in the United Kingdom analysis from fire service data – published by Optimal Economics in conjunction with the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) and the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC)
• Business Sprinkler Alliance - advocates greater business resilience by enhancing protection against fire through the increased acceptance and use of fire sprinklers in commercial and industrial premises
• British Automatic Water Fire Suppression Systems - promoting our supporting strategic, LFB signed a memorandum of understanding with the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association key player in the sprinkler industry
• Association of British Insurers (ABI),- calling for sprinklers to be made a legal requirement for a Varity of purpose groups
• Residential Sprinkler Association is a non-profit organisation providing support to the Residential sector of the UK Fire Sprinkler Industry