Flats evacuated after kitchen fire in St.Andrews
26 October 2012
Several properties were evacuated after a fire broke out at a block of flats in St Andrews in Fife overnight.
Firefighters were called to the blaze at Auldburn Park St.Andrews at about 04:30.
It is understood the fire started in the kitchen of a ground floor flat. Residents were cleared from surrounding properties.
A spokeswoman for Fife Fire and Rescue Service said one man was treated by paramedics at the scene for the effects of smoke inhalation.
Derbyshire Fire Think Sprinkler on BBC Breakfast -
25 June 2012
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service appeared on BBC Breakfast this week promoting their Think Sprinkler campaign.
The campaign aims to make it mandatory for sprinklers to be installed in all new homes, while also dispelling some of the myths that have developed around sprinkler systems.
Chief Fire Officers, including Sean Frayne from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service say that having a sprinkler system fitted is like having a firefighter in every room of your home.
Between 2010-11 there were 388 fire deaths in the UK, and Mr Frayne says “that figure would come down massively if sprinklers were fitted in new builds.”
The campaign says that sprinklers virtually eliminate fire deaths, reduce injuries by at least 80% and reduce property damage by 90%.
They also attempt to quash the myth perpetuated by films and television programmes that sprinklers can go off accidentally.
According to the campaign tests over the last ten years show that the chances of a defective head are approximately 16 million to 1, which is slightly longer odds than you winning the lottery.
This figure includes all types of defect and therefore the actual chance of an accidental discharge is considerably less.
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue are encouraging those who Think Sprinkler to sign a petition asking the government to debate the issue in the Houses of Commons.
Sprinkler call after fire destroys school block
23 June 2012
A fire which destroyed the junior block of a primary school in Wales was caused by a table fan overheating.
Pupils were evacuated from the building at the Bettws Primary School in Bridgend when the fire alarm sounded just before 2.30 pm on Tuesday (19 June).
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service took the call at 2.29 pm and were on the scene at 2.40 pm. But the fire developed so rapidly that they were unable to save the 50m x 30m block.
Following the blaze, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service has called on authorities to consider the installation of sprinklers when refurbishing or building new schools.
Sprinkler report ‘challenges’ government thinking on tower blocks
15 February 2012
A report into the retrofitting of sprinklers in existing high-rise blocks of flats will conclude that it is both cost effective and practical to do so, following a pilot installation last year.
A preview of the full report – due to be launched by the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) in April – challenges the prevailing government view that it is not practical or economically viable to require the retrospective fitting of sprinkler systems to all high rise residential buildings.
The report is based on an installation at Callow Mount in Gleadless, Sheffield in what it thought to be the first retro-fitting of a sprinkler system in a tower block while residents remained in occupation. The project was completed in four weeks during August and September 2011.
The total cost of the project was around £55,000, averaging at around £1,150 per flat which, says BAFSA, compares favourably with alternative fire protection measures. It estimates that the annual cost of maintenance would be around £250 a year if a contract for the entire block was entered into.
“The true installation and whole-life costs can permit a cost benefit analysis of sprinkler installations in relation to potential repair and rehousing costs following a fire,” says a summary of the report. “The full-life costs of a sprinkler system should be compared with other upgrading fire protection measures so that the benefits of each can be carefully weighed up.”
The report will recommend that existing guidance documents and approved codes of practice be updated to reflect the findings of the pilot project. It will call for the installation of sprinkler systems to be “positively considered” by housing authorities and providers when reviewing or planning:
- Major refurbishment programmes
- Development of fire safety policies
- Fire risk assessments
- Cost effectiveness of other fire safety measures
“These findings will permit national government, local housing authorities and private sector housing associations to realistically re-consider the use of sprinklers as part of a comprehensive fire safety strategy for existing unprotected high-rise blocks across the UK,” the report’s summary concludes.
Steve Seaber, project manager at BAFSA, will be presenting some of the findings of the pilot project as part of the Housing Fire Safety day at Firex South on 14 March.
Tower block sprinkler retrofit challenge underway
06 September 2011
In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind, a project to retrofit a sprinkler system to an existing residential tower block got underway last week in Sheffield.
Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Homes have joined with the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) to install the system at Callow Mount in Gleadless, a 38-year old social housing block occupied mainly by elderly residents.
The project will test the viability and cost of retrofitting a sprinkler system to an existing residential tower block and is thought to be the first in the UK where residents will remain in occupancy during the work.
The likely cost of the project is around £80,000 which is being fully funded by BAFSA and its members.
The US-based International Fire Sprinkler Association have also provided funding to help promote the lessons learnt from the project, and to provide technical information for housing authorities and landlords who wish to provide similar protection.
In addition to the normal warranties and guarantees included in the contract, the project will be overseen by Warrington Certification, who will be reviewing each stage to ensure that the design and installation meets the required standards.
On completion, a report will include practical guidance for other local authorities and private landlords to use when considering the safety potential and economic benefits of retrofitting fire sprinklers in their high-rise accommodation.
Peter Armstrong, chairman of BAFSA, said: “The project will provide the opportunity to demonstrate the practicability and cost effectiveness of using sprinklers to safely protect people from fire in high-rise tower blocks”.
Assistant chief fire officer Neil Hessell of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said: “This is an innovative and ground breaking project, and we are delighted that BAFSA have chosen to pilot this initiative in Sheffield. We are supportive of community based projects to increase the safety of local residents. This sprinkler system will certainly mean the residents of Callow Mount will be safer if they were unfortunate enough to suffer a fire in the future, and could save lives.”
U-turn in sprinkler row over high rise student flats
17 August 2011
A fire service is celebrating after it managed to persuade developers to include sprinklers in a skyscraper built to accommodate students.
Originally, developers Watkin Jones said the planned Portsmouth Blade would not be fitted with a sprinkler system. The University of Portsmouth, which has commissioned the build, argued that "stringent evacuation measures" would sufice.
They said that because the 33-storey Blade will be halls of residence and managed accommodation, it will fall under the category 'hotels and other use'. Under current building regulations, sprinklers have to be installed into new high rise blocks of flats exceeding 30 metres.
However after a row erupted between Hampshire Fire and Rescue service and the university over fire safety, it has been decided that the Blade will now be fitted with sprinklers.
"We listened to the valid points raised by the fire service and we have now decided to fit sprinklers in this iconic development, " a spokesman for Watkin Jones said.
It follows a meeting last week, where it looked as if there would be no adjustments to the design plans. In response, firefighters had said they would campaign ‘strongly’ to get the decision overturned.
Area manager for the fire service, Mick Crennell, said: "This is a fantastic outcome and I commend Watkin Jones for their vision and foresight as well as their openness and commitment to make this building as safe as possible for all concerned. The fire service are able to assist in the design phase of any project in order to help balance the business imperative with occupants' safety and this project clearly demonstrates the benefits that can be gained.
"We have learned much from this experience and are committed to assisting developers and businesses during difficult economic times. We can do this by working together more closely at an early stage".
Developers are 'gambling' with fire as schools 'ignore' sprinkler advice
11th July 2011
Around two thirds of new or refurbished schools planned for the capital have not been installed with sprinklers, the London Fire Brigade has warned.
It follows Government guidelines introduced three years ago that recommended that sprinkler systems should be fitted in most new and refurbished schools.
Sprinklers stop fire from spreading and "greatly reduce the chance of death or serious injury", the fire service said. The figures have been released to coincide with the publication of new guidance from the brigade encouraging builders and developers to install sprinklers in schools, residential care homes, social housing and commercial premises. Called Think Sprinkler, the booklet is to be sent out to architects, building managers, care home owners and social landlords
Fire chiefs are consulted on the plans for newly built or refurbished schools in the capital and, according to the service’s figures, 49 out of 75 schools that have proposed building work in the last three years were not going to install sprinklers.
A spokesman for the service said: “Every year, one in eight schools suffers a serious arson attack. The cost of school fires is around £65 million with London accounting for over a third of the cost.
“As well as having a huge financial impact, these fires cause disruption to students, teachers and families and can have a devastating effect on the wider community.”
Arson figures have been taken from The impact of school fires, a study undertaken by the National Foundation for Educational Research commissioned by Local Government Analysis and Research.
Chairman of London fire and emergency planning authority’s community safety committee, Cllr Susan Hall, said:
“It’s time for building owners and developers to stop playing such a high risk game and gambling that there will never be a fire in their building. For too long architects and developers have ignored the overwhelming benefits of sprinklers in reducing the damage and potential loss of life a fire can cause."
Fire safety sprinkler row over high rise student flats.
Monday 20th June 2011
A fire service has raised fire safety fears about a new 90 metres high tower block that will be used as student accommodation.
The building, dubbed the ‘Blade,’ will house Portsmouth University students. At 33 storeys high, it will be one of the tallest structures in the city once it is completed.
However, senior firefighters from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have asked developers Watkin-Jones to consider installing a sprinkler system inside the skyscraper as students are ‘high risk’.
Deputy chief officer, Dave Curry, said: "We will be asking the university and the developers to consider including sprinklers in the design of the building to ensure the safety of the future occupants.
“This and other fire safety provisions are especially relevant when we know that the future occupants will be students - a known high risk group."
Under current building regulations, sprinklers have to be installed into new high rise blocks of flats exceeding 30 metres. However, because it will be halls of residence and managed accommodation, the tower falls under the category 'hotels and other use', claims Portsmouth university.
John Turner, pro-vice chancellor of the university, said: “The building will not be fitted with a sprinkler system. Stringent evacuation procedures will be in place in the new building. In the event of a fire an automatic alarm is triggered and on detection of a confirmed fire, there is immediate evacuation of the building to a place of safety.”
Last week, private residents of a 32-storey high housing block in Sheffield complained about the lack of a central fire alarm system. However, as the property is made up of self-contained flats each with a separate fire alarm system, a communal fire alarm is not required under building regulations.
Fire Sprinklers save lives after chip pan fire in Greenock, Scotland.
Tuesday 1st March 2011
Fire Sprinklers save lives after chip pan fire in Greenock, Scotland.
The sprinklers activated after a chip pan fire broke out saving the lives of 30 people inside the homeless shelter.
The blaze started in the emergency accomodation wing of the Inverclyde Centre for homeless people at around 2am.
Due to a sprinkler system being installed and activating quickly on detection of the fire no lives were lost.
Group commander at Greenock fire station Malcolm Nicolson said: “This could have been very dangerous. It could easily have spread and escalated.
“The fire was extinguished before we arrived, thanks to the sprinklers.
“I’ve been involved in fires were there’s no sprinklers, no alarms, and obviously there’s the risk of fatalities.”
Fire chief Paul Nelis, group commander for Renfrewshire and Inverclyde, added: “In normal circumstances without a sprinkler system, the fire would have been a lot more developed.
“It’s likely that the two gentlemen who were staying here at the time would have been a lot more seriously injured, possibly even killed.
“It would have started to affect the flats above, and put other people out on the street.
“It’s important to remember, however, that people should never tackle a chip pan fire in their own home with water.
“Put a damp cloth or lid over the flames to stop it.”
Fire sprinklers were fitted in 2009 during an upgrade of the council run facility. January 23rds fire was the first time the sprinklers had been called into action.
Inverclyde councillor Joe McIlwee, Convener of Health & Social Care Committee, said: “This was definitely money well spent.
“The sprinkler system uses a lot less water than fire fighters would have had to use to deal with the fire, meaning the service can get up and running again quickly.”
Rest of UK should catch up with ‘monumental’ Welsh sprinkler law say fire chiefs
Monday 28th Feb 2011
The Chief Fire Officers Association has welcomed the law to require sprinklers in all newly built homes in Wales, saying it is committed to ensure that other parts of the UK will be able to enjoy the same levels of protection.
Commenting on the move made by the Welsh Assembly earlier this month, CFOA president Peter Holland said the people of Wales will be safer as a result of the new law, and fire chiefs would continue to put their weight behind the increasing use of sprinklers throughout the UK.
"This is a monumental achievement that will protect the lives of thousands of people. We at CFOA have been engaged with the process throughout and are keen to ensure legislation in England begins to catch up with that of our neighbours.
"CFOA will continue to put its weight behind increasing the use of sprinklers throughout the UK.”
Domestic sprinkler contains fire in Wiltshire house
Wednesday 12th Jan 2011
A house in Trowbridge escaped being badly damaged by fire last week, thanks to the activation of a domestic sprinkler system.
Fire crews were called to the property shortly after 6.30pm, but found the blaze had been extinguished by sprinklers. As a result, damage was minimal and, said Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, there was no risk to the occupants who were downstairs at the time.
Although the exact cause of the fire remains unclear, there were no suspicious circumstances.
The Studley Green estate is said to have been the first housing development in Europe to be fitted with domestic sprinklers following its rebuild in 1999.
“This is the third time that the sprinklers at Studley Green have done their job, and it is heartening to know that so little fire damage was caused,” said chief fire officer, Andy Goves. “It is quite clear that this would have developed into a significant fire had the sprinklers not activated, affecting the bedroom and potentially the whole top floor of the house."
Barry Hughes, chief executive of Selwood Housing, which owns and manages the Studley Green estate, said: “Although it is always distressing for the residents involved in a fire, thankfully the sprinklers reduced the damage to the home and the family were able to move back after just one night in temporary accommodation.”
Wales comes closer to compulsory residential sprinklers
Thursday 25th Nov 2010
The mandatory installation of sprinklers in all new homes in Wales took a step closer yesterday when members of the Welsh Assembly unanimously approved the general principles of the measure.
The Domestic Fire Safety (Wales) Measure, which passed its Stage 1 debate without a vote, will make it compulsory for automatic suppression systems to be fitted in new residential premises.
If passed, the measure will apply to dwelling houses, flats, residential care homes, educational residential accommodation and houses in multiple occupation.
The move follows the passing of an enabling act, known as a Legislative Competence Order, earlier this year by the Welsh Assembly and both houses of parliament in Westminster.
However, there may still be some hurdles ahead. A report by an Assembly committee said there are some practical issues to resolve, such as the guarantee of water supply and/or sufficient water pressure. The legislation will now go forward to be considered in detail and may be subject to amendments being made.
Sprinklers Save Blackpool Attraction
Sunday 26th Sept 2010
A blaze at one of Blackpool's major attractions was brought under control by sprinklers, a fire service spokesman said.
Fire broke out at a florist's shop in the Coral Island leisure complex on the Promenade in the early hours.
The sprinkler system also activated an alarm, which brought fire crews promptly to the scene.
A fire service spokesman said it "prevented the development of a potentially devastating fire".
Lancashire's chief fire officer Peter Holland said: "Fires often develop rapidly and immense damage can result if left unchecked, not least due to the spread of fire to property and premises some distance away from the original seat of the blaze.
"But for the sprinkler system installed in the premises, that could have been the scenario facing us this morning."
"The extensive investment in the Coral Island leisure complex, a premier attraction in the resort, includes the best type of fire protection there can be, a fire sprinkler system.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Sprinklers save three residents following Holyhead flat fire
Monday 3rd May 2010
A Senior Fire Officer from North Wales F&RS is highlighting the life saving properties of sprinkler systems after three people escaped safely from a fire in a flat in Holyhead this morning (Monday May 3).
Crews from Holyhead were called to the property on Waterside at 09:44hrs and used two sets of breathing apparatus to smokelogged property. The fire, affecting a microwave oven in the kitchen of the property, was extinguished by a sprinkler system fitted in the flat.
The fire caused slight fire damage to the kitchen and slight smoke damage to the rest of the flat.It is believed that only one sprinkler head in the kitchen was actuated.
All three occupants escaped unharmed.
The cause of the fire was food left to cook too long in the microwave oven.
Huw Roberts, Deputy County Safety Manager for Ynys Mon, said: "This incident clearly highlights how sprinkler systems can stop a fire in its tracks - saving lives and protecting property.
"The occupier, a woman thought to be in her 60s, had left food cooking in the microwave for too long, causing the food and the oven to break out in fire. As the fire intensified, and the temperature of the room reached 60 degrees, the automatic sprinkler system was activated and effectively extinguished the fire. Without the system, the fire could have spread quickly, endangering the lives of the occupier and two other people who were with her in the living room at the time of the fire.
"Automated fire sprinklers offer excellent protection to individuals involved in a fire. Although smoke alarms have saved lives on numerous occasions, the alarm raised depends upon the ability of the individual to escape the property.
"Sprinklers attack a fire in its very early stages and can prevent it from spreading and causing injury or loss of life.
"The systems are incredibly sophisticated, and cases of false activation are extremely rare. It is also a myth that all heads of the sprinkler system often activate all at once. In fact, the water released by a sprinkler will cause much less damage to a building than the amount of water used by firefighters tackling an advanced fire.