John Griffiths the Welsh Environment Minister recently announced that lifesaving sprinklers would be installed in all new build and converted properties in Wales from 2013.
A spokesman for the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) said “The progress made in Wales on this very important issue is to be applauded and we congratulate all those who have committed so much time and effort to this cause.”
The news follows nearly four years of hard work by Ann Jones, Member of the Welsh assembly. In 2007 a report was produced by the North Wales Fire Service which showed that 50 people had died over a period of six years in dwellings which were already fitted with smoke detectors, a figure which was much higher than the average across all UK fire and rescue services. Prompted by the need to consider other measures, Ann submitted a proposal for an item of backbench legislation – a Legislative Control Order (LCO) – which would aim to have all new dwellings in Wales fitted with automatic sprinklers. An LCO would not change existing law but, if approved, would give the Welsh Assembly the power to do so using an Assembly Measure. Finally, on 16 February 2011, after four stages of amendments, the Welsh Assembly approved the Measure (which bears the title ‘The Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure’).
Chief Fire Officers Association would like to see more widespread usage of sprinkler systems in domestic properties throughout the UK. Speaking about the recent tragedy which claimed the lives of six of the Philpott children when they were unable to escape the fire which swept through their home in May this year, Lee Howell, President of the CFOA said that these were six deaths that could have been avoided had there been an automatic fire sprinkler system installed.
The Fire and Rescue Services across the country have been lobbying the Government for many years about the need for sprinklers. They would like to see similar legislation to that introduced in Wales to be implemented in England but the government is reluctant to even consider it. They are now calling for a public campaign which makes sprinklers a standard safety device in the home. Sprinklers are cost effective and according to the CFOA will almost eliminate fire deaths in the home.
Commercial Sprinkler Success Stories
Sprinklers Help Contain Blaze at Staffordshire Factory
A sprinkler system installed at a TX Maxx factory in Staffordshire helped contain the blaze which started in a bailing machine on 2nd May. When the fire crew arrived at the scene the sprinklers had already activated and controlled the blaze, restricting damage to the affected machine. Staff were able to resume work at the factory three hours later minimising costly disruption to the factory.
Speaking about the fire, Station Manager Ian Read said "We would encourage all businesses to have sprinklers fitted. As this incident has highlighted they do prevent the spread of fires, and so minimise the economic cost of a fire, which is even more important during these difficult financial times."
Fire at Food factory, Scarborough
When a fire started in the production area of a food processing factory in Scarborough staff from the factory started to fight the fire with portable extinguishing equipment but with little success. The fire and rescue service was called. The fire caused a total of five sprinkler heads, three at roof level and two on the underside of the fryer, to operate. The factory was undergoing maintenance at the time of the fire and no food production was taking place. The sprinkler system was reinstated and the factory was fully operational later that day.
Sprinklers Save Plastics Factory in Kettering
Within minutes of a fire starting in a foam extruding machine at a factory in Kettering the factory’s sprinkler system activated, controlling the fire which had quickly spread to engulf the entire machine and nearby combustible materials and prevented any further spread. When the Fire and Rescue Service arrived the sprinkler system had the fire fully under control, leaving the fire crew to damp down a couple of hotspots on the floor. As a result of the activation of the sprinklers:
- All eight members of staff escaped without injury
- There was no fire damage to the building
- There was no smoke damage to the building
- There was no water damage to the premises since the sprinkler system was isolated soon after it had done its job.
Sprinklers Save Animals in School Fire
When an electric heat lamp malfunctioned in the animal care classroom of newly built Walbottle Secondary School, Newcastle upon Tyne over the weekend and caused a fire, the alarm was given by the fire detection system and one sprinkler head activated in the room involved and extinguished the fire. The damage was confined to the animal care classroom and all the small animals (guinea pigs, gerbils, tortoise and tarantula spiders) kept in the room involved survived. No other areas of the school were affected and the school was able to open as normal on the Monday following the fire.
Keep Your Sprinklers in Tip Top Condition
Sprinkler System Testing
Sprinkler systems should be tested regularly to check the water supplies, valves, alarm bell and fire appliances are functioning correctly. The testing involves checking the activation pressures of the sprinkler system, alarm and pumps. The BS Standard recommends this should be done weekly.
Sprinkler maintenance should be conducted to make sure the equipment is working safely and effectively. The relevant British standard recommends maintenance is carried out every 6 months.
How We Can Help
Metro Safety’s Sprinkler System Testing service helps to fulfil your insurance requirements by identifying any possible impediments to your sprinkler system and ensuring its proper functioning in the event of a fire.
Our pre-service audit enables us to design a comprehensive testing procedure for every building, allowing our testers to assess the system safely and successfully. This allows us to test and report with complete building and system knowledge, ensuring the service runs as smoothly as possible.
Clear site information is distributed to you through monthly electronic reports and serious faults are reported on the day they are identified. Visit records are witnessed and are also kept off-site so that you can call upon them in the event of a significant incident.
For more details please contact us on 0845 058 9999.