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Welsh Housing Starts Grow following Sprinkler Regulation

Far from dampening activity, since sprinklers became mandatory in Wales housebuilding has increased.

In January 2016 the requirement for new housing in Wales to have sprinklers took effect. Statistics published by the Welsh government show that, “During 2016-17, the number of new dwellings started increased by 2 per cent compared to the previous year to 6,871 dwellings. This is the second highest annual number recorded since the start of the recession in 2007-08.”

During the long campaign to introduce the Welsh regulation, housebuilders frequently claimed that it would destroy housebuilding activity in Wales. We always argued this was not so because the cost of a sprinkler system is relatively modest and about the same as the monthly movement in house prices. Now the evidence shows we were right.

First residential sprinkler system in France

On 28th June two live fire tests were run at Les Violettes care home in Nérac, southwest France.The tests were part of the acceptance protocol for the new fire safety concept for this building. A residential sprinkler system, fitted throughout, was the core of this new concept. 300 sprinklers were installed in the first building in France to be protected with a residential sprinkler system.

The first test was in a bedroom, where the damage was restricted to the bed. Relatively little smoke was produced and the self-closing fire door prevented any escape of smoke into the corridor. The second test was in a storage area. This fire was also rapidly extinguished.

150 delegates from across France were present to witness the event. Many were from fire services and commented that they had buildings which did not comply with French regulations and for which a residential sprinkler system would be the most effective and economic solution.

Regional press attended and the tests were a major story the next morning in La Dépêche du Midi.

and in Le Petit Bleu

as well as in Infos 47

For a video of the tests click Fire Tests by SDIS47

For a video by the installer, CLF Satrem, click Fire Tests by CLF Satrem

We have a mobile demonstration unit in France. To see it in action click Demonstration Unit

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Croydon council to retrofit social high-rises

Following the disastrous fire in the unsprinklered Grenfell Tower in west London, Croydon council in south London has decided to retrofit all 25 social high-rise buildings in the borough that are 10 or more storeys high. Cardiff Council is considering a similar move. Sheffield Council has retrofitted some high-rise blocks and over 500 houses.

Sprinklers are extremely effective at dealing with high-rise residential fires, as shown by this compendium of medium and high rise sprinkler saves in the UK.

No sprinklers in London high-rise fire

We were all dismayed to wake up on Wednesday and see the unfolding tragedy at Grenfell Tower in West London. 79 people are confirmed dead and hundreds more have been injured or lost their homes. The EFSN wishes to express its deepest sympathy and sends its condolences to all affected. We have nothing but praise for the emergency services, who attended in huge numbers to try to save as many people as they could.

This fire was not unprecedented. Similar fires have occurred in the UK and other countries.

Sprinklers are a proven fire safety measure that would have prevented a fire of this scale. Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 without sprinklers. Regulatory guidance in England has only required sprinklers in high-rise residential buildings since 2007. Although this 24-storey tower was refurbished at a cost of £9 million in 2014/15, there was no requirement to fit sprinklers at the same time. The added cost to do so would have been about £200,000.

There is widespread agreement among fire safety experts that the fire safety regulatory guidance and its system of enforcement need to be reviewed. This review should include consideration of how to improve fire safety in existing buildings. The review should begin this year and not wait five years or more until the public enquiry announced by the Prime Minister is complete or litigation has ended.

Ann Jones awarded James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal

NFPA announced on 4 June that it has awarded its James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal to Ann Jones, recognising her lifelong devotion to fire safety and successful introduction of a requirement to fit sprinklers in all new homes in Wales. Read more

UK Study Shows Effectiveness of Sprinkler Systems

A study jointly commissioned by the National Fire Sprinkler Network and the National Fire Chiefs Council has analysed over 2,000 fires in sprinklered buildings, using incident reports from all the Fire & Rescue Services in the UK. The researchers found that sprinklers when sprinklers operated they controlled or extinguished 99% of fires. They also found that the operational reliability of sprinklers was at least 94%.

The researchers also found that only one or two sprinklers operated in 85% of fires and that in dwelling fires the average area of fire damage was reduced from 18-21m2 to under 4m2.

The full report is available here.

Sprinkler saves residents of Norwegian psychiatric hospital

The Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad reports that the fire brigade was called at 01:00 on 15 May to a fire in the psychiatric wing of the hospital in Kalnes, about 80km south of Oslo. The fire was quickly extinguished by the hospital’s sprinkler system.

In a psychiatric hospital security considerations may mean that swift evacuation is difficult. Patients may also decide not to evacuate, even though there is a fire. A sprinkler system is essential in such facilities to protect their vulnerable occupants.

Major Spanish Recycling Fire Injures 35

Spanish fire trade association and EFSN member Tecnifuego-Aespi issued a press release following a major fire in a warehouse at the Requimsa recycling facility in Arganda del Rey, Madrid. 35 were injured, of whom three seriously. Businesses and schools 500m around the facility had to be evacuated because of the risk from exploding cylinder. 18 fire crews attended the incident. Three years ago there was another fire in this 10,000 m2 warehouse. Under Spanish regulations a new warehouse of this size and application must be fitted with sprinklers but there were none in this building.

Recycling fires are a frequent occurrence – anecdotal reports in the UK suggest there is a major incident each week. On 8 May there was a huge fire at a plastics recycling plant in Rotherham, in the North of England. 500 tonnes of plastic were on fire.

Some recycling plants in the UK are fitted with sprinklers and they have very successfully dealt with the fires they have experienced.

Fire Sprinkler Warsaw 2017 a Huge Success

170 delegates attended Fire Sprinkler Warsaw 2017. Held in the fully-sprinklered Hilton Warsaw they heard about the latest developments in sprinkler and water mist systems, including research and regulatory developments. Speakers from the US, Poland and other European countries gave an insight into the Polish regulatory situation and prompted lively discussions in the breaks. A sellout exhibition gave delegates the opportunity to discover the latest innovations from leading manufacturers.

This event has given momentum to water-based fire protection systems in Poland and we have plans to campaign for more recognition of them, as we do in many other European countries.

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Record Norwegian residential sprinkler and water mist markets in 2016

Brannteknisk Forening, the Norwegian fire protection association, has reported the numbers of sprinklers and water mist nozzles sold in 2016.

The total sprinkler market was 699,266 heads, of which a record 154,533, or 22%, were residential sprinklers. In addition a record 23,427 water mist nozzles were sold, of which 13,734, or 59%, were to protect residential occupancies.