Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is supporting this week’s National Sprinkler Week campaign (16-22 May) and is encouraging businesses across the County to use sprinklers to help keep people and buildings safe from fire.
Sprinklers are widely recognised as the most effective method for containing fires in their early stages.
Sprinkler systems protect property and increase sustainability, but more critically, they can save lives, including those of firefighters. The installation of sprinklers means that firefighters will ultimately respond to smaller incidents.
Research by the NFCC and National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) shows that when sprinkler systems operate, they extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasions. As a result, sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80% and reduce property damage by 90%.
Gareth Murphy, Fire Safety Manager, said: “Sprinklers are highly reliable systems and have proven results in preventing the spread of fire or even fully extinguishing them before the fire and rescue services arrive.
“Sprinkler systems are a hugely effective way of saving lives, protecting property and the environment. Therefore, we would encourage building owners and developers to install sprinklers wherever they can to reduce the impacts of fire.”
Thomas Shepherd-Mogensen, Safety and Security Manager at IKEA Reading, said: “In IKEA, co-worker and customer safety is paramount. One of the biggest risks to our business is fire, as we are a flatpack retailer. One of the ways we minimize this risk is by having a fire suppression system installed. The sprinkler system covers the whole store and plays the biggest part in our fire suppression system.
“The main benefit from having a sprinkler system in place is knowing that, should a fire start, we have remedies in place that will help supress the fire while we evacuate the building and get all of our customers and co-workers out safely.
“It gives me confidence knowing that I have a system to back me up, should there be a fire in our store, which will help get everyone out safe.”
Despite the benefits of sprinkler systems, some may have reservations due to a number of misconceptions. Some of these are:
- Myth: In a fire, all the sprinkler heads will activate at the same time.
Truth: Only the sprinkler head or heads directly affected by a fire will be triggered.
- Myth: Sprinklers are unsightly.
Truth: Modern sprinklers are small and discreet. They can also be concealed by being recessed and having a flush flat plate fitted on to.
- Myth: Sprinklers cause extensive water damage.
Truth:As only the head or heads affected by a fire will activate, the amount of water released is far less than it would be from a fire hose. Also the early intervention of sprinklers can reduce the damage caused by fire in comparison to conventional firefighting activities.
- Myth: Sprinklers can go off accidentally.
Truth: There is a 16 million to one chance of a sprinkler going off accidently. Regular testing and maintenance in line with the manufacturers recommendations will ensure the system remains in full working order.
- Myth: A smoke detector will provide enough protection.
Truth: Working smoke detectors do save lives as they give an early warning during a fire. However, they will not help with extinguishing the fire meaning that a substantial fire could develop
Any business seeking advice on fire safety can also contact their local Fire Safety Office, the details of which are available online on our Safety at Work website page.