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Sprinklers.

Learn about Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) – sprinklers – and why you should install them in the property you own or manage. 

Overview

Why should you install sprinklers?

Sprinklers – or Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) – can save lives, homes, and businesses. They provide protection from fire damage and, most importantly, they give people a greater chance of getting out if there is a fire. By reducing the damage and severity of a fire, they can also save money, too.

Who are they good for?

Everybody. Though there are some organisations, groups and property types who could particularly benefit from sprinkler installation. These include:

  • Schools
  • Care homes or places where people with any mobility issues live
  • Heritage buildings
  • Hospitals
  • The homes of very vulnerable people
  • Specialist housing
  • Residential properties over 18m in height – including student accommodation
  • Hotels, B&Bs and hostels
  • Complex and deep sub surface structures such as basements
  • Large warehouses
  • Firefighters – when we need to enter burning buildings on search and rescue operations, sprinklers significantly reduce the risks to firefighters

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 that has caused the rise in temperature.

Did you know?

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!

 

Sprinklers and you

Did you know that we provide free, expert advice on sprinklers? Use the form at the bottom of the page – or email sprinklers@london-fire.gov.uk

A potentially life-saving intervention

Sprinklers – see why they matter

The best way to understand the benefits of sprinklers is to watch our short video.

See the difference sprinklers make in this demonstration.

The additional benefits of sprinklers explained

Additional benefits of sprinkler systems

So it's clear that sprinklers can save lives – but are there other reasons to install them? Let's take a closer look... 

 

Schools

Schools are one of the property types where really significant benefits can be achieved by sprinklers. As well as the obvious safety benefits for students and staff, reducing the risk and impact of fire is good for the local community. A little forward  thinking and investment can stop a vital community resource being lost.

We are not the only people who think so. The Department of Education's Building Bulletin 100: Design for fire safety in schools, 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.

Did you know?

Across all premises types, sprinklers are 99% effective*.

 

Architects and building designers

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 reduced, so a designer has more creative options within the internal space of the building. Automatic sprinklers can permit freedom of design, leading to savings in initial capital costs, lifecycle costs and construction programme. For example, installation allows larger compartment sizes, reduced structural fire protection requirements, increased travel distances and stair configuration, reduction in fire-fighting shafts and reduced circulation areas, leading to an increased useable area.

Did you know?

The average area of fire damage in dwellings not fitted with sprinklers is 18-21m2; while in dwellings where sprinklers are present, the average area of fire damage is under 4m2*.

 

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. There are now special self-contained systems available that don't even need to be plumbed into the water mains – find out more about the options on the sprinklers for carers and social workers page.

As well as safety benefits, there's a business case, too. Having sprinklers fitted in care homes or specialised housing can safely allow for a reduction in night staff, so reducing the businesses costs.

Did you know?

Statistically speaking, vulnerable and older people are at the greatest risk of fire death. The right sprinkler system can reduce fire risks for people with limited – or no – mobility.

 

Businesses

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.

Did you know?

Case studies consistently show a significant reduction in business interruption when a fire is controlled by a sprinkler system*.

*Efficiency and Effectiveness of Sprinkler Systems in the UK.

Extra advice

Are sprinklers enough?

If you manage a property, it's important to get the right sprinkler system in place, though you will also need to consider fire alarms,  fire doors and signage. There are also special sprinkler systems available for vulnerable or older people - find out more on the sprinklers for carers and social workers page.

The legal position 

Some property owners are required by law to install sprinklers? In England, for life safety it is compulsory to install AFSS 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). Find the latest information about legislation through British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA). You can also contact us using the form below.

Downloads

Think Sprinkler leaflet

Download PDF (2,167kb)

Sprinkler toolkit

Download PDF (248kb)

Our position on sprinklers

Download PDF (53kb)

Personal protection system guidance

Download PDF (140kb)

Useful links

Other sources of expertise

National Fire Sprinkler Network and European Fire Sprinkler Network – both encourage the greater use of fire sprinklers to save lives and protect property and the environment.

Sprinklers for carers and support workers – specialist advice on sprinklers and personal sprinkler systems.

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 use of sprinklers in commercial and industrial premises.

British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association – is the professional membership association for AFSS and sprinkler installation. It is dedicated to making sure that sprinkler systems are installed to the highest professional standards, and provides useful information.

Residential Sprinkler Association – is a not-for-profit organisation providing support to the residential sector of the UK Fire Sprinkler Industry – visit for advice on sprinklers in the home.

 

Useful downloads

Retro fitting Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) – GN 89

Download PDF (241kb)

Personal protection watermist systems – GN88

Download PDF (264kb)

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