Sprinklers save lives and businesses – that is the message from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service in a campaign during national Sprinkler Awareness Week which starts today.
A senior fire officer said he wanted to “dispel the myth” that water from sprinkler systems caused more damage than fire.
“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.
TV shows and films often showed sprinklers going off throughout a building which was “pure drama” and gave a false picture of what happens in real life, he said.
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 blaze broke out. While more recently, a sprinkler system saved a large Amazon distribution warehouse in Staffordshire from more 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.
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.
See film of how an electrical fire is swiftly put out by a sprinkler
https://youtu.be/TNEXZVKl5Vs The 20 minute film shows the moment the sprinkler is activated after flames “drip” from a faulty overhead wire onto the floor of a small office and storeroom. The fire spreads after about 12 minutes.