Why Should Fire Sprinkler Systems Be Installed in Social Housing?
The elderly and disabled, who are deemed vulnerable and less able to evacuate a fire, account for the bulk of fatalities in accidental household fires. This includes a diverse group of people with varying requirements who may not be effectively protected by typical fire safety measures like fire sprinkler systems.
Social landlords are progressively installing fire suppression systems as part of their duty of care to their tenants. As the “responsible person” in the new Fire Safety Act 2021, it is their job to maintain safeguarding in all areas; including the safety and well-being of individuals classified as vulnerable.
In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, many asked why there wasn’t an effective fire sprinkler system in place. Going forward, more fire regulations have been put in place and still, sprinklers are not mandatory in buildings. There are many reasons why this should be amended in social housing.
The UK sprinkler sector has often advocated and researched the importance of sprinkler protection systems in various types of buildings.
The Callow Mount Sprinkler Retrofit Project, funded by BAFSA in 2011-2012, revealed that retrofitting fire sprinkler systems in social housing was possible and cost-effective.
The major goal of this Sheffield high-rise sprinkler project was to see if it was possible to install a complete system without requiring people to relocate. In regard to Callow Mount, the project was completed in just four weeks and on budget; including communal spaces, 1 two-bedroomed and 46 one-bedroomed flats. All without a single tenant being relocated.
This case study proves that it is possible. Without it inconveniencing people. Without it taking too much time. So then, why aren’t there more Callow Mount projects being undertaken?
Current Building Regulations
There is currently no requirement in England to retrofit fire sprinklers into existing structures, yet existing high-rises must have them installed if the structure or purpose of the building is fundamentally altered.
However, following a review of Building Regulations in May 2020, which went into effect in November 2020, the height of new structures where sprinklers are required has been reduced from 30 metres to 11 metres.
Why Are Residential Sprinkler Systems Required?
Fire sprinklers can put out a fire in a matter of seconds. It is the only fire protection system that does not require manual operation to keep you safe from a fire. Installing a fire sprinkler system is therefore incredibly beneficial for any social housing owner because it can control, confine, and often extinguish flames, ensuring the safety of the property and its occupants.
This is key in social housing, such as residential care homes, where tenants may need more time to evacuate. Also, as each sprinkler head activates individually, these residential systems will not disrupt the remainder of the building. Instead, wherever the fire is, the accommodating head will alone deal with the situation; without drenching every other room.
Here at RAD Fire Sprinklers, we promote the installation of fire sprinkler systems throughout the London and South East area. There are many benefits to having fire sprinklers in both commercial and domestic buildings:
- Saves Lives
- Environmentally Friendly
- Reduced Insurance Costs
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