Fire Sprinkler Systems: Information page


Automatic fire sprinkler systems have been in use for over 130 years. Sprinklers have, since the publication of BS 5306 Pt. 2 in 1990, been recognised as providing a vital life safety function in controlling the size of a fire to allow more time to escape for the occupants. In the UK the majority of existing sprinkler systems have been designed and installed to the requirements of British Standard BS 5306 Part 2 and the LPC Rules for Automatic Sprinkler Installations. More recently systems have been introduced that are intended for the protection of life in domestic and residential property, and which are designed to BS 9251. 2005.


An automatic fire sprinkler system is designed to:

• Detect a fire within a protected building
• Release water in the fire-affected area via the sprinkler heads, which contain heat sensitive
elements designed to operate automatically at a pre-determined temperature [NB. Only
those sprinklers in the vicinity of the fire operate]
• Initiate a water flow-activated, audible, local alarm when a sprinkler head operates
• Transmit a signal to an approved alarm-receiving centre when required.
• Control the spread of fire and give more time to escape.

Records show that by this means of providing detection, alarm and localised water application, automatic fire sprinkler systems are very effective in preventing the development of major fires. In the UK no lives have been lost in fires in fully fire sprinkler protected buildings since the end of the Second World War.

In industrial and commercial automatic fire sprinkler systems about 60% of fires are controlled by four sprinkler heads or fewer. In domestic and residential sprinkler systems over 90% of fires are controlled by the activation of just one sprinkler head. The volume of water used by a properly designed, installed and maintained automatic fire sprinkler system to control a fire will be significantly less than that used by the fire service to control and extinguish the same fire. In many cases this will be less than one tenth that which would have been used by the fire service.


In environmental terms automatic fire sprinkler systems make a valuable contribution by:

• Reducing the size and severity of fires
• Using water in the most effective and economical way to control fire
• Minimising the problems of contaminated firefighting water run-off


Domestic and residential fire sprinkler systems generally consist of 7 things, these are –

• The design and hydraulic calculations.
• Water Supply
• Valves, gauges and pump
• Pipe Work
• Sprinkler Heads
• Alarms
• Certification and testing

Read more on the specifics of residential fire sprinkler systems on our installation page HERE…


Frequently asked questions:-

Why install fire sprinklers?

The vast majority of fires start small but can grow very quickly. If when a fire starts it is detected quickly, it can be extinguished with minimal water usage.
Unfortunately, if the fire is not tackled soon enough it can engulf a room within a few minutes. Sprinklers act fast and fight fires before they take hold.


What proof is there that fire sprinklers work?

In the last 120 years the success rate of fire sprinklers controlling fires is more than 99% worldwide. Fire sprinklers are the most effectual and efficient safety devices known to man.


Are sprinkler systems widely used?

Over 40 million sprinkler heads are fitted around the world every year. The UK lags well behind with just 1.8 million sprinklers fitted in 2003.


What is fire safety strategy?

The current fire safety strategy is based around-
– Educating the public
– Giving early warning of fire
– Restricting the spread of fire for as long as possible


How many people are injured by fire?

In Great Britain every year fire kills around 450 people and injures around 12000. Approx. 75% of which occur in their own residence.


How would sprinklers reduce the impact of fire?

Installing fire sprinklers would almost eliminate the risk of fire death, cut the risk of injury by over 80%, drop the risk of fire damage to property by 90% and massively help the environment by reducing the damage caused by fire and substantially reducing the amount of water used by fire fighters.


Why don’t i just fit a smoke alarm?

Smoke detectors and alarms only alert people of fire and that is only if they can hear them, even then they would still have to call the fire brigade and wait on them arriving before tackling the blaze. Sprinklers warn of fire but also fight the fire at an early stage even if no-one is aware or present in the property. Most of the time the sprinklers will have controlled the fire before fire fighters have even been called.


Will sprinklers not wreck the property and its contents?

Sprinklers use between 1/25th and 1/100th LESS water than EACH Fire brigade hose. In the event of a fire and the Fire Brigade being called the fire will have been burning and spreading for somewhere between 5-30 minutes before the fire fighters arrive therefore the reduction in damage caused by both fire and water is huge.


If a fire starts will all the sprinkler heads go off?

A common misconception of fire sprinklers is that they all go off at the same time. Only the sprinkler (or 2 sprinklers if the fire starts directly between them)that is nearest the fire will actuate and in many cases be enough to extinguish the fire completely.


What if the sprinklers don’t work?

There is approx. a 1 in 16 million chance of a sprinkler head being faulty. They are extremely reliable.


Who is most at risk?

Care homes in which the vast majority of residents are elderly, there are on average 3 fires reported every day.
Childrens homes and residential property mainly used by handicapped or disabled people report on average around 8 fires every week.
Residents in property over 3 stories high are also most at risk.



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