Never Again: Sprinklers as the next step in fire safety
According to the Chief Fire Officers Association, where sprinklers have been fitted:
• fire deaths (including firefighter deaths) have been almost eliminated
• fire injuries have been reduced by 80 per cent
• there have been significant improvements in firefighter safety
This is for the UK only, where sprinklers are rare.
In the US, where sprinklers are far more widespread, there were 35 deaths a year from residential fires in households with sprinklers between 2010 and 2014.
London cannot afford to ignore the deadly consequences of failing to protect its buildings from fire.
Londoners have a mixture of ‘passive’ and ‘active’ fire safety measures installed in their homes. Passive fire safety measures, such as fire doors, when combined with active measures which activate during a fire, such as fire alarms, can allow people to quickly and safely escape fires. The number of dwelling fires in London fell from 7,009 incidents in 2009/10, to 5,507 in 2016/17, a fall of nearly 21 per cent.
Requiring Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) like sprinklers, alongside passive protections like fire doors, could further significantly reduce the risk of loss of life and property.
However, AFSS are not mandatory in residential buildings below 30 metres high in England.
On behalf of the London Assembly Planning Committee, Navin Shah AM released a report into AFSS in London. The report ‘Never Again: Sprinklers as the next step in fire safety’ recommends:
- The government should develop a road map with clear milestones towards making AFSS compulsory in every residential building in England.
- The Government should amend Building Regulations to make installing AFSS in all new-build residential developments above 18 metres in height mandatory.
- The Government should update the Building Regulations to require all new care homes and sheltered housing to be fitted with sprinkler systems in England
- The Mayor should create a £50 million ‘London Sprinkler Retrofitting Fund’ to fund AFSS in 200 existing high-risk buildings over the next five years.