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Suffolk Council Adopts Automatic Fire Sprinkler

The UK Fire & Rescue services have recently made fantastic progress towards the adoption of Automatic Fire Sprinklers and maintaining this as the most effective line of defence for property and loss of life due to fire. The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) acknowledge and support this wholeheartedly.

Suffolk County Councillor, Colin Spence who is also the Cabinet Member for the Public Protection Directorate has made the awareness of automatic fire sprinklers a political priority. He said “I believe that the case for fire sprinklers has been well and truly made. They protect lives and almost eliminate the social, economic and environmental impact of fire. And it is on these grounds that we have been working hard to convince members of Planning Committees in Suffolk to advocate for their installation in all new buildings”. 


Director and Chief Fire Officer Andy Fry is a passionate supporter and actively promotes automatic fire sprinklers within the SCC Corporate Management Team and with fellow Directors within SCC.

As a direct result, the St Edmundsbury Borough Council Vision 2031 Local Plan actively promotes the early consideration and use of Automatic Fire Sprinklers to protect the community associated with new developments and also to protect vulnerable people and the environment.

On a national level CFO, Andy Fry attempts to influence legislative reviews through national consultation and is a strong supporter and advocate of AFS within CFOA. Chief Fire Officer had this to say “Unfortunately progress at a national level on this issue has been frustratingly slow and, on that basis, we have been strongly committed to ensuring that proper consideration is given to the installation of sprinklers in new buildings. These simple, relatively inexpensive and highly effective systems have the potential to make an enormous contribution to improving fire safety and I am delighted that colleagues at St Edmundsbury Borough Council have recognised their important role in unlocking this potential”.
Source: https://www.fireengineering.com/fire-prevention-protection/suffolk-council-has-vision/

Suffolk F&RS continue to be proactive by engaging with developers to encourage them to consider installing AFS in new developments with a focus on social housing and residential care and collaborative work with the Suffolk County Council (SCC) Spatial Planning Team (Economy, Skills and Environment Directorate) to promote AFS at county planning and local council level. As part of this campaign, a low-cost sprinkler pilot through two projects to provide AFS protection to accommodation used by vulnerable people in the community, including working with local sprinkler installers and with other SCC directorates and departments including Adult and Community Services and Children and Young People to encourage their consideration of the inclusion of AFS in the design of new county premises is underway.

Colin Spence and Andy Fry have been promoting AFS for a number of years in a news article from last year, Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said:

“I am delighted by the strong collective support we have received for our ambition to make automatic fire sprinklers the standard for our homes and businesses. It has been proven time and again that they save lives and ensure that businesses and communities do not suffer the catastrophic impacts of fire, which can cost lives, jobs and livelihoods.
“This is our response to the growing national debate about fire sprinklers. Today’s event and the formation of the Safer Suffolk Sprinkler Coalition sends a clear signal that we do not only intend to join the growing support for sprinklers, but we want to shape it and take the lead in their widespread use here in Suffolk.”

Andy Fry, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire & Rescue, said:

“We are now well aware of the life safety, social, economic and environmental benefits of fire sprinklers but, unfortunately, too often, fires which could have been contained if sprinklers had been installed destroy lives and property. Sprinklers also make sense from an environmental perspective, using a fraction of the water that our firefighters may rely on in the event of a major fire. More importantly, they also keep our firefighters safer as sprinklers can put fires out, or keep them at bay, reducing the risk for the crews.

“I am delighted that so many experienced and influential people will be joining us at today’s event – we need their supporting in building our coalition. The next step will be to translate the momentum we have built into practical steps to ensure that policy makers and developers take timely, properly informed decisions about whether to install fire sprinklers in new buildings across Suffolk.”

Sprinkler facts:

  • Automatic fire sprinkler systems detect a fire and operate when there is a significant increase in temperature. Individual sprinkler heads operate automatically but only in the immediate vicinity of the fire
  • The water used by a sprinkler system is up to 10,000 times less than firefighters would use
  • Modern domestic sprinkler heads are not unsightly, and can be fully recessed and only identifiable by a small disc approximately 75mm in diameter on the ceiling
  • It is extremely unlikely that a fire sprinkler would be set off by mistake, with a 1 in 500,000 chance of accidental operation through damage
  • Sprinklers are relatively cheap to install, with the cost varying depending on the size of the building and the extent of the sprinkler system. For a typical new build house the cost will be between £800-£1000 to install and supply a sprinkler system
  • Buildings fitted with fire sprinklers emit 22% less CO2 than those without.
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16:45 15 Nov 13

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