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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.

Belgium to issue a sprinkler postage stamp to mark Innovation fire

The Belgian postal service has announced it will mark the 50th anniversary of the Innovation department store fire

in Brussels, which killed 300 people, by issuing a series of stamps showing different fire safety products. One of the stamps will depict a sprinkler.

The Innovation disaster led to the retrofit of sprinklers in all Belgian shops with a compartment size greater than 2,500 m2.

Swedish Sprinkler Market remains Strong

Sprinklerfrämjandet, the Swedish sprinkler association, has reported the numbers of sprinklers installed in Sweden in 2016.

In total, 540,509 sprinklers were installed, of which 32,436, or 6%, were residential. This graph of sprinkler sales since 1980 shows that the market has grown five times since then

Green light for first French residential sprinkler system

It has taken more than a decade but today approval was given for the first residential sprinkler system in France.

The system will be installed in a converted wing of a hospital in Nerac, southwest France, which is to become a residential care home. Congratulations to Youcef Ouammou, who spent many hours to explain the technology to the various agencies involved in approving this first system! He was strongly supported by representatives of the local fire service. The project is expected to go for tender in the near future. Several other French residential sprinkler projects are also under consideration and Nerac will act as a useful precedent.

Sprinkler save at London Bridge Underground station

London Fire Brigade reports that it was called yesterday, 31st January, at 11:45 to a fire at London Bridge Underground station.

On arrival, firefighters found that a fire had started in the motor of an escalator and had been controlled to a small fire by the specially-designed sprinkler system. The station had already been evacuated but reopened at 12.35.

Thirty years ago, a fire at King’s Cross Underground station also started in an escalator. That fire killed 31 and injured 100. The lengthy investigation led to many changes, including in operating procedures, materials used, a ban on smoking and the installation of specially-designed sprinkler systems under the escalators.

French Construction Booming

The French Housing Ministry has announced that there were 10.4% more housing starts in 2016 than in 2015 and that planning approvals rose 14.2%.

Most of the growth was in individual houses. At the same time planning approvals for non-residential construction rose 4.2% and by 29.7% for warehouses. 2017 could be a good year for warehouse sprinkler systems in France!

BS 9999:2017 Published

Today BS 9999:2017 was published. This is a code of practice for fire safety in non-residential buildings and includes many incentives to fit sprinklers.

The standard offers longer travel distances, narrower corridors, stairs and exits, reduced fire resistance and reduced spacing between buildings if sprinklers are fitted. It also relaxes the requirements for fire brigade access and for fire-fighting facilities if sprinklers are fitted. BS 9999:2017 is available here: here.

Sprinkler Ban Lifted

A ban on fitting sprinklers in ammonia refrigeration machinery rooms has been lifted.

EN 378-3 has been updated and the 2016 edition removes the ban. This was a success achieved by the collaboration of EFSN members in several countries and could not have been achieved by any one member alone.

EN 378-3:2016 refrigerating systems and heat pumps.Safety and environmental requirements. Installation site and personal protection was written by refrigeration experts. Unfortunately they held misconceptions about how sprinkler systems work and were concerned that a system would operate without a fire and release huge quantities of water onto liquid ammonia. While a cup of water dropped into a bucket of liquid ammonia will release clouds of toxic ammonia, this scenario is unrepresentative of an ammonia refrigeration machinery room protected by sprinklers. In fact sprinklers are needed to help prevent ammonia leaks by controlling any fires that may occur in these rooms.

Insurer members of the EFSN first discovered the ban in EN 378-3 when local authorities began to require their clients to decommission existing sprinkler systems. EFSN members met the chairman and secretariat of the CEN committee which wrote the standard and contacted members of its national mirror committees in several countries. Once the technical arguments were made, most national mirror committees supported a repeal of the ban. Their representatives then corrected the CEN standard.