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Surprising Research Results Underline the Importance of Domestic Sprinklers

Recently, research by Derbyshire Fire & Rescue has highlighted an inability of children, in particular male children, to wake up on activation of standard domestic smoke alarms.

Now, while anyone who shares a dwelling with adolescent children may not find this particularly surprising, the research was carried out on children aged between 2 – 13 years of age!

The research project which involved 34 children (20 girls and 14 boys) involved the activation of standard smoke alarms in a care home and monitoring the time taken to wake the children after the children had been settled and sleeping. Each child was tested 6 times and were given no warning that the tests would occur.

The results were surprising and they showed that:

  • 80% of the children slept through the alarms on all six of the tests that they were exposed to.
  • It demonstrated that only 7 children (all girls) woke at least once during the six tests.
  • Also, they proved that of these 7 children, only two, both girls aged 10 years, woke each of the six times the alarm was sounded.
  • None of the male children woke during any of the tests.

The value of smoke alarms as a means of alerting people to fires has not been questioned by these tests. However, the findings of this preliminary research has surprised many people and advice from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue is to ensure that smoke detectors are fitted in all bedrooms.

The research that has been carried out by Watch Manager Dave Coss, in conjunction with Professor Niamh Nic Daeid underlines the importance of making that next step, one which sees a future where we suffer no fire deaths as a result of proactive fire prevention measures – Domestic Sprinklers.

Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive, Sean Frayne said: ‘Once again, I find myself calling on Government to listen to the evidence that is not only put forward by Derbyshire, but also other UK fire and rescue services that have witnessed tragic fire deaths. I also ask that they consider the most recent research undertaken by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) of March 2012 and take steps to change regulations before we witness yet another tragic child fire fatality.’

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid said ‘While the results of this study remain preliminary given the number of children involved, they do highlight significant concerns that cannot be ignored. Further research is required to build on the findings to date and investigate robust solutions to the issues highlighted”.

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service continues to campaign and work towards domestic sprinklers being fitted into all new domestic dwellings and retrofitted into the homes of those most vulnerable to fire, as and where appropriate.


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