Fire sprinkler legislation takes a big step forward

Fire Sprinkler Close Up

Fire Sprinkler Close Up

Many leading institutions have come together in support of changing fire safety laws to recognise the benefits of sprinkler systems in new and existing buildings.

Decisions, decisions…

Following a debate held at Westminster Hall during mid-March, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) all backed changing laws to see more sprinklers fitted or retrofitted.

There was said to be a ‘unified voice’ across all the institutions involved in the debate, organised originally at the request of MPs Sir David Amess and Jim Fitzpatrick. The consensus of opinion from leading experts was said to have made it ‘abundantly clear that sprinklers should be part of overall fire safety solutions in both new and existing buildings’. It similarly emphasised the need to listen to experts, and especially ‘those who understand the challenges’ of controlling a fire.

Welcome news

The outcome of the debate was welcomed by both the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler System (BAFSA) and the Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA), who noted that it had confirmed that sprinklers not only work, but also ‘make complete sense as an important layer of safety’.

In a statement, Tom Roche, Secretary of the BSA, said that sprinklers are essential for both building and public safety, adding that English building standards needed to follow the example set by Wales and Scotland.

“Sprinklers protect life, protect buildings and keep firefighters safer. [They are] essential for building safety and public safety, and should be installed on a mandatory basis to appropriate buildings.

“[It is] abundantly clear that building standards in England must be enhanced and brought in line with national policy in Scotland and Wales.”

Roche later went on to state that, ‘through either ignorance or misunderstanding’, the use of ‘fire sprinklers as an important layer of safety’ was not being ‘utilised’. Fortunately, proposed changes to fire safety laws should now hopefully alleviate that.

Organiser opinions

MP Jim Fitzpatrick, Chairman and Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, was similarly pleased with the debate’s decision, endorsing sprinkler systems’ ‘operational reliability’. He added that ‘no one in the UK had ever died from a fire in a fully sprinklered building’, as the systems had either ‘extinguished or contained the fires’.

Meanwhile, Sir David Amess said that enough was enough, agreeing that Wales and Scotland’s stance was the one to follow.

“‘Wales and Scotland are much further ahead in regulating for automatic fire sprinklers in their built environment,” he said. “This nonsense can go on no longer and we will not accept it. We want action on this, and we want sprinklers to be installed retrospectively, particularly in new school buildings.”

Final thoughts

Changing fire safety laws to recognise the importance of sprinkler systems is a big step in the right direction. Not only will it improve safety, but it will also ensure the protection of buildings and, more importantly, people.

If you are considering fitting a fire sprinkler system in your building, you’ve definitely come to the right place. Contact our team today for any help or advice, or take a look at the wide range of sprinkler valve systems we offer.

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