When is a Sprinkler System Required in a Building
Please note: the following fire sprinkler requirement guidance is intended for properties in the United Kingdom. Building regulations and requirements around fire sprinkler systems vary based on whether the sprinkler systems installed are in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Read on to discover when a sprinkler system is required in a building.
All parties, including clients, system designers and engineers should always note the relevant rules and regulations for the area where the system will be installed in.
We should also mention that legal requirements aside, the case for life safety is not in doubt. No one in the UK has ever died as a result of a fire in a building with a working sprinkler system.
The UK government’s stance on fire safety legislation is often the topic of conversation and scrutiny, as a result, the laws surrounding commercial and residential fire safety regulations are subject to alteration once again.
It has been confirmed that from May 2020 there are major changes for current building regulations, including mandatory sprinklers and necessary signage placed in all new high-rise blocks that stand over 11 metres tall.
This revision to the fire safety legislation stems from the Government’s response to its Building for safer future consultation. Amendments to the guidelines were scheduled for release in May, which sought to introduce a new standard of fire prevention by adding 11-metre structures to the list of mandatory buildings to feature sprinkler systems and wayfinding signage.
The current guidance means that all new residential structures and building complexes that stand above 11 metres tall will need to be fitted with fire suppression systems. This is part of the UK government’s critical plan to prevent further catastrophe in high-rise residential buildings, where human intervention is limited.
We are seeing the biggest changes to building safety for generations.
What do these changes mean to our infrastructure?
With the installation of sprinkler systems in newly built high-rise buildings comes a number of added benefits. For example: the introduction of up-to-date fire prevention systems means that buildings can be built closer together, which is a huge factor in the eyes of commercial constructors in areas such as London, Manchester and Birmingham – locations where space to build new premises is limited.
Do I need a sprinkler in my house?
These regulations will of course bring many questions to those who live in high-rise buildings.
In most cases, the implementation of sprinklers and signage will be mandatory in any newly constructed accommodation that rises above the 11 metre trigger height. It may also be necessary to introduce new protection methods for existing areas within buildings that are at risk of severe consequences should a fire break out.
If you live in a residential area – a flat, apartment or another type of accommodation – that stands above 11 metres tall, you are required to have a mandatory fire suppression system installed within your home.
More on the mandatory fire suppression systems
By definition, a fire suppression system is an automatic fire repellent mechanism that is designed to control and extinguish fires without intervention.
Each system is required for buildings that fall under the following categories:
- New houses and flats
- Care homes
- Registered group homes and sheltered housing
What the legislation means for property development
Some residences including flats and apartment blocks feature inaccessible routes for specific fire brigade appliances to reach the source of a fire.
Fire brigade appliances must be within a 45m distance of the furthest point within the registered property, with access to roadways and the availability of wide turning circles so that fire engines have in-and-out access to the premises.
Stairways to ground floor living areas may be installed, so long as there are the necessary fire sprinkler systems in place. This is beneficial to properties that feature loft conversions and an open plan ground floor.
Travel distances are also on the list of things to consider. In residencies such as bedsits or open plan plan apartments, there is room to extend where fire sprinklers are installed.
Current legislation does not currently allow for the installation of inner rooms that open up to a living space. However, if there is a fire suppression system in place, it is acceptable to construct inner rooms.
If you seek further information on the current fire safety guidance or require information about the practice, installation or general enquiry into fire prevention methods then do not hesitate to get in touch with us.