Hall and Kay Fire Engineering

National Sprinkler Week!

Jun 23, 2023News

It’s National Sprinkler Week!

An annual campaign run by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to spread awareness of the facts about sprinklers and promote a greater understanding of how sprinkler systems provide business and social continuity.

We understand how easy it can be to focus on the day-to-day running of a business and not consider the ‘what ifs’, but a properly designed, efficiently installed and well-maintained, 3rd-party accredited sprinkler system will remain ready to protect your business premises or your home when it matters most.

Sprinkler systems detect and suppress fires quickly, minimising fire damage to a building and buying valuable time for the fire brigade to arrive and people to evacuate safely.

Why would I need a sprinkler system?

A sprinkler system may be required for several reasons:
• By law. Some buildings, depending on their height, size or function, legally require a sprinkler system to satisfy building regulations, Approved Document B and must comply with the British Standard (BS EN 12845). This is for life safety purposes.
• To satisfy your insurer. Sprinklers give your business greater levels of protection and minimise business disruption should a fire occur.
• As a compensatory measure when a building is fire engineered to BS9999. Even if a building’s height, size or function doesn’t require a sprinkler system to satisfy building regulations, if the building has been fire engineered to BS9999, sprinklers could be deployed as a compensatory feature.

How does a sprinkler system work?

A sprinkler system is a network of pipes and sprinkler heads which runs throughout a building. Water is provided from a sprinkler tank and pumps, or a town’s main supply fills the pipework with water. When a fire breaks out, heat from the flames rises, triggering sprinkler head(s) to operate. Each sprinkler head has a quartzoid bulb with a pre-determined operating temperature. Sprinkler heads which exceed their operating temperate in the event of a fire will operate. Once activated, the sprinkler head allows water to flow, suppressing the fire in its early stages and preventing it from spreading.

There are many vital components in a sprinkler system.

An alarm valve provides a guaranteed alarm when the system activates, even if there has been an electrical failure in the building. Following activation of the system, a mechanical gong will ring when water flows through the alarm valve into another pipe.

Flow switches, usually installed on the main water supply pipe riser and zones throughout the building, provide an automatic signal to the fire alarm control panel when water flows through the pipe. This quickly alerts occupants that the system has operated and the zone location of the activation.

What about water damage?

To truly understand the facts about sprinkler systems and their value, we must suppress the myths (sprinkler pun intended!).

In film and tv, all the sprinkler heads activating at once is an all-too-common misrepresentation. In Casino Royale (2006) we see a classic James Bond villain break a glass box labelled ‘Emergency Sprinkler Override’, which activates all the sprinklers in an airport. Similarly, in Veronica Mars (2014), in an attempt to stop a bar fight, the female lead holds a lighter under a sprinkler head and all the sprinkler heads in the bar go off!

Sprinkler heads activate independently of each other, with only those adjacent to the fire going off. Research in the US shows that 94% of all fires in sprinkler-protected buildings are contained by the activation of 4 heads or fewer.

There is often concern about the extent of water damage caused by an activating sprinkler system. A typical sprinkler head discharges 55 litres/min – a firefighter’s hose discharges over 600 litres/min! In a fire situation, a sprinkler system would therefore typically discharge less than 5% of the water that would need to be used by the fire brigade.

Creating safe and sustainable environments

Sprinklers reduce building fire-related injuries by at least 80%, and property damage by 90% and substantially reduce the impact of fire on the environment.

By protecting property, assets, and people, we can also be confident that sprinklers significantly reduce the disruption to business continuity in the event of a fire.

Interested in finding out more about how sprinklers could ensure your building remains a safe and sustainable environment? Get in touch at communications@hkfire.co.uk

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