The fire service says sprinkler systems are key to preventing businesses going bust after a major fire, as it marks a national awareness week.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has tackled more than 500 fires in non-domestic properties over the last three years. The most serious of these incidents can take fire engines several hours to tackle, as well as potentially putting the company involved out of business.
But fire safety officers say sprinklers are the most effective way to ensure that fires are suppressed or even extinguished before the fire service can arrive.
Sprinklers save lives and reduce injuries, protect firefighters who attend incidents and reduce the amount of damage to both property and the environment from fire.
Currently, only commercial premises greater than 20,000m2 must have sprinkler systems installed. The fire service, through the Chief Fire Officers Association, is currently campaigning for this threshold to be lowered.
Technical fire safety manager Amy Jenkinson, said: “A sprinkler system can quickly suppress a fire before it gets out of control. When you consider the huge costs associated with a commercial premise fire such as rebuilding, relocation, loss of equipment, stock and trading, it seems like an obvious move to install a sprinkler system, but many businesses still don’t.”
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has already helped pioneer a drive for sprinklers to be installed in residential properties. In 2011, sprinklers were retro-fitted into a block of flats in Gleadless after a grant from the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association. It was the first scheme of its kind in the country.
It is also working with Sheffield City Council on a scheme to fit domestic sprinkler systems in hundreds of social housing properties across the city.
Fire Sprinkler Week (16 to 20 March), coordinated nationally by the Chief Fire Officer’s Association (CFOA), seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of sprinklers to businesses and educational establishments.
The theme of the 2015 week is business continuity, focusing on the support that fitting automatic fire sprinkler systems can provide to business and to educational continuity.