Fire sprinkler save in London apartment block

Tower Block council housing

The efficacy of a fire sprinkler system has again been highlighted following a sprinkler save at a block of flats which caught fire earlier this month. The fire, at a luxury block of apartments in West Hampstead, is believed to have been caused by a cigarette butt discarded into a plant pot on the third-floor balcony.

Eight fire engines and 58 fire fighters were sent to the scene to tackle the blaze. The fire destroyed five balconies from the second to the sixth floor.

Luckily, the building was fitted with a fire sprinkler system which activated on five floors and helped suppress the fire. The fire damage was contained to the balconies as a direct result of the sprinkler heads, which minimised the damage to about 10 per cent in each flat. There were no casualties and minimal loss.

While there was some smoke damage to the flats, if it had not been for the sprinkler system, the flats would have suffered severe fire, heat and smoke damage.

According to a report by the British Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA), the fire sprinkler system was designed and certified to BS9251, 2005 regulations and covered the apartments only. The system was connected to the boosted cold water supply, which had a feed to each floor with control valves located off of these feeds. Control valves consist of an isolation valve, flow switch, pressure gauge and drain point.

On each floor where the sprinkler heads activated, the flow switch registered back to the panel in the concierge area, indicating clearly the areas that were involved in the fire.

A Third Party Accredited Member of BAFSA and RSA installed the fire sprinkler system.

It is a terrible thing to have to reflect and think what the outcome might have been had Grenfell been fitted with a fire sprinkler system. No one knows and we can’t change history, but we can continue to campaign to make our high-rises safer places to live. Fire sprinkler systems are a proven, cost-effective solution.

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