A senior fire officer says he wants to “dispel the myth” that water from sprinkler systems causes more damage than fire. His message has been broadcast ahead of National Sprinklers Week.
“That is absolutely and completely untrue. Sprinklers only react to just where the fire is. They react to the heat and successfully put out fires to save lives and property,” said Ian Leigh, Station Manager in Protection at Shrewsbury Fire HQ.
Week to bust myths of sprinklers
Speaking to mark National Sprinkler Week, he pointed out that TV shows and films often showed sprinklers going off throughout a building which was “pure drama”. He said they gave a false picture of what happens in real life. Owners of historic buildings were often reluctant to install the equipment for fear of causing water damage which could be easily cleared up while fire was much more of a threat and could completely destroy properties.
Between 60 and 80 per cent of businesses never recover from serious fires according to insurance company estimates, said the Station Officer. The Homebase store in Oswestry was saved from severe damage by a sprinkler in 2009 when a fire broke out. More recently, a sprinkler system saved a large Amazon distribution warehouse in Staffordshire from serious damage in a fire just before Christmas.
“The sprinklers prevented the fire spreading and kept the damage to approximately 2 per cent of the total stock costs and allowed 10 per cent of the business to resume after 42 hours,” added the officer.
A Scottish school was saved by sprinklers which reduced fire damage to a single classroom in a blaze which would probably have destroyed the entire three storey building last year.
National Sprinklers Week
Fire and Rescue Services from across the UK are putting their voices together to campaign during Sprinkler Awareness Week which runs from March 12. Their joint message is that the risk of death or injury from fire is greatly reduced, particularly in homes occupied by vulnerable people or in high risk buildings such as blocks of flats where escape is more difficult.
The Grenfell tower block tragedy in which 71 people died has renewed the debate around the provision of sprinklers in premises of all types and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is actively assisting with the public inquiry and the Independent Review of Building Regulations.
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