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Residential Sprinklers in High-Rise Buildings

Residential High-rise Developments Fire Sprinkler Systems

The residential high rise tower block at Baltimore Wharf

A very stylish purpose built high rise block of apartments with residential fire sprinklers installed throughout the building

Residential fire sprinkler systems in new high rise buildings which are over 30m in height and built after 2007 should currently be fitted with a fire sprinkler system installed nowadays, in order to comply with the current requirements of the Building Regulations. There are many high rise apartment blocks which are currently having these systems installed within the living areas. The common areas tend not to have sprinkler coverage due to the high degree of fire compartmentalisation. The sprinkler system is often supplied via the boosted cold-water mains supply.

Retro-Fitted Residential Fire Sprinkler systems 

Ekman House gravesham Council

Example of a building with retro-fitted residential firesprinkler system

In addition to this, significant inroads have been made into the practicalities of retro-fitting fire sprinkler systems into outdated, refurbished flats. This was documented with the Callow Mount project – a pilot project which proved that it can be highly cost-effective to retro-fit sprinklers in high-rise blocks of flats. Sprinkler coverage is more likely to be incorporated within the common areas in this type of project particularly if a high level of fire separation is not achievable as in the Callow Mount project. The sprinkler system supply can either be taken from the boosted cold-water supply or via a dedicated fire pump and tank.

High Rise Fire Sprinkler Systems

Galliard Homes - Jerome House

Fine example of the conversion of office to residential occupancy

A further demand for residential firesprinkler systems in high-rise developments has been created by the large quantity of office accommodation which is being converted to residential flats. The escape arrangements and fire safety considerations of an office building are very different from those of a residential development due to various factors, for example:

  • hours of occupation – offices are generally occupied during the day
  • type of inhabitants – a higher proportion of office staff being able bodied
  • condition of the inhabitants – office staff generally tend to be awake and ready to react to an emergency very quickly
  • people management – office workers are obliged to attend regular fire practices whereas this would not be possible in the case of private residents

When a commercial building is converted to residential accommodation, the developer will find that the only way to make the conversion commercially viable is to fit fire sprinklers within each flat.

BS9991:2015 offers further advantages for installing fire sprinklers by permitting relaxations of standards for levels of fire resistance and means of escape.

The fire sprinkler supply is more likely to be taken from the boosted cold-water supply, as this issue will have been addressed at the start of the project.

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