Sprinklers for Property Protection
There is consensus among property insurers and many business owners that sprinklers offer a highly cost-effective way of automatically protection buildings, storage and equipment. Fires in warehouses can cause major interruption to business continuity, relationships with customers and suppliers and local job losses.
Building Control fire safety guideline documents suggest that sprinklers are installed in very large warehouses which exceed 2000 m² . This is the largest area requirement in European Community. In other EU countries the maximum warehouse area, without sprinklers, is significantly less.
BAFSA and other organisations i.e. The British Sprinkler Alliance have ongoing campaigns to have the area of 20,000 m² for warehouse without sprinklers, as noted in ADB, reduced.
In other EU countries automatic fire sprinklers will usually be installed in warehouses in excess of the following floor areas: 5,000m² in Belgium, 2,000m²-5,000m² (dependent upon fire load) in Denmark, 3,000m² in France, 2,000m² in Spain, 1,800m² in Austria, 1,800m² in Germany, 1,000m² in the Netherlands, 800m² in Norway.
Just What is the Extent of the Problem?
Research¹ has shown that the impact of fires in warehouses without sprinkler systems in England and Wales was as follows:
These fires cause a direct financial loss to business of £230m per year
A loss of £190m per year in productivity and impacts to the supply chain
Approximately 1,000 direct and indirect jobs were lost annually through disruption and business failure
The Treasury lost £160m in tax receipts over five years.
135,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere annually; equivalent to the emissions resulting from the annual domestic electricity consumption by a city the size of Portsmouth
Carbon dioxide emissions and water used in fire-fighting valued at £11 million per year
Knock-on effects of each fire include an average of 21 local businesses impacted by road closures and air and water contamination
A study by the Building Research Establishment² shows that, on average, fire sprinklers are a sound investment for larger warehouses
One in five warehouses in England, approximately 621 premises, will have a fire requiring the attendance of fire fighters each year. The total annual cost to the UK economy of fires in English warehouses without fire sprinklers is £232 million.
Some of the key findings from the three-year study include:
- The whole life costs for warehouse buildings larger than 2,000m2 (around half a football pitch in size) with fire sprinklers are on average 3.7 times lower than ones without them
- Environmental benefits from sprinklers include a reduction in CO2 emissions from fire, reduced size of fire and reduced quantities of water used to fight fire
- If all warehouses above 2,000m2 were fitted with sprinklers, the annual saving to businesses in England could be up to £210m.