02 July 2018 | Antony Corbett
Antony Corbett, product manager at Geberit, discusses how sprinkler systems in your building can help to save lives.
The Hackitt Review is now published and positive changes are afoot in fire safety rules, but where is the discussion about sprinklers?
There's no requirement in UK building regulations or fire safety laws to install sprinklers into existing buildings. In all the debate on cost, red tape, product certification and fire safety management, one fact can't be ignored; sprinkler systems save lives.
Welsh Assembly Minister Ann Jones campaigned successfully for sprinklers to be installed in new domestic buildings in Wales. Summing up the benefits in Geberit's new guide for the industry, Pressing Matters: Breaking the Barriers to Retrofitting Sprinkler Systems in Existing Building Stock, she writes: "There can be no doubt that the installation of a sprinkler system offers a degree of security and protection of one's home and many precious memories.
"It has a good environmental footprint and also reduces the burdens on public sector funding. But above all, no one has ever died from a fire-related incident where a sprinkler has been installed."
One of the barriers to any change in rules on sprinklers has been the perceived challenge of installing them in existing buildings.
Current rules state that sprinklers must be installed in all new buildings over 30m tall in England and 18m in Scotland, but not into existing buildings.
"No one has ever died from a fire-related incident where a sprinkler has been installed"
The construction and maintenance industry has long had a perception that retrofit installations are disruptive, unattractive and too costly to ensure viability.
With modern press-fit sprinkler systems, contractors and their customers can benefit from fast, reliable connections, with no hot works, lightweight piping and a clean finish. BSRIA also says the installation efficiencies of press-fit can deliver cost savings of about 27 per cent when compared with screwed steel pipework.
Antony Corbett is product manager at Geberit.