The fire service is calling for the widespread adoption of sprinklers by businesses, schools and care homes, as it marks a national awareness week.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has tackled 1,065 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 business fire safety officers say fire sprinklers are the most effective way to suppress or even extinguish a 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.
Business 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.”
The fire service, through the National Fire Chief’s Council, is currently campaigning for this threshold under which businesses must legally install sprinklers to be lowered- as well as calling for sprinklers to be installed in care homes and specialised housing, schools and student accommodation.
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 has also provided funding to support the installation of sprinklers in high-risk domestic premises- like care homes and refuges- in a bid to protect vulnerable residents using the Fire Authority’s Safer Stronger Communities Reserve (SSCR).
“We’ve already had several success stories as a result of the sprinkler projects we’ve supported in South Yorkshire. In all of these incidents a fire has occurred, but the presence of sprinklers has drastically reduced the amount of damage and potentially saved lives,” said Amy.
Fire Sprinkler Week (15 to 21 May), coordinated nationally by the National Fire Chief’s Council, seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of sprinklers to businesses, high-risk domestic premises and educational establishments.