“Not just another supplier.”
At Project Fire we don’t see ourselves as just another supplier. We want to work closely with our customers, understand your business challenges and how we can help streamline processes, ordering and do everything we can to make your life easier. We pride ourselves on our after sales service and our design team is here to support your project to the end, from remote assistance to on-site technical support.
Because of the essential role our products perform, regular routine maintenance is essential, and our warranties make a clear statement on the quality and longevity of our products.
AFTER SALES SERVICES INCLUDE
- Dedicated technical support
- Help with technical drawings
- Project support
- On-site commissioning support
- Manufacturer’s updates
- Industry training
5 Year Warranty
Full warranty includes protection for materials and manufacturing defects.
Our premier account provides dedicated technical assistance and trouble shooting.
To help our clients meet the requirements of their customers and projects we are able to offer extended warranties.
Project fire operate a no quibble repair or returns procedure, terms & conditions apply.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
We pride ourselves on our after sales service.
If you have a site issue or problem with your order and want to contact a member of our team, please fill out the form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0)1889 271271
Water is key to all fire sprinkler systems. However, regular testing has previously been achieved by releasing vast amounts of water from systems directly to local drains.
Property developers, consultants and landlords need to balance budgets for capital and operational expenditure, which all impacts on design, performance, efficiency and sustainability over a building’s life cycle.
As a forward thinking and sustainably conscious company our views are that having a long term strategy for a project opens up the possibility of implementing new technologies and solutions that in return gives ongoing operational cost savings that far outlay the initial expenditure and also deliver an easy way to remain compliant with fire safety codes for the building’s planned life cycle.
Water is key to all fire sprinkler systems. However, regular testing has previously been achieved by releasing vast amounts of water from systems directly to local drains. These tests are required by law to ensure that a system remains ‘fit for purpose’. We believe that this important task can be carried out in a sustainable manor and more should be done to steward these wasteful practices.
We often find that fire sprinkler systems are not always considered when implementing sustainable solutions for a project and currently many green building initiatives don’t even acknowledge the use of such technology. In some cases building projects that have achieved high accolades for sustainability are still pouring hundreds of thousands of liters of clean drinking water to drain. This waste of natural resources, time and costs is something we can together eradicate and set about installing systems to minimise water loss, address green issues and operational expenditure whilst enabling ease of compliance with fire regulations.
We often find that fire sprinkler systems are not always considered when implementing sustainable solutions for a project and currently many green building initiatives don’t even acknowledge the use of such technology.
Project Fire are committed to developing green, innovative and sustainable fire sprinkler system solutions. Our products are designed to improve the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of fire sprinkler systems, making the best use of resources and keeping environmental impact to a minimum.
“We believe using our long-standing experience to create national awareness on how crucial fire sprinklers are for the continued safety of residents and the longevity of buildings is part and parcel of being an industry leader in sustainable and innovative fire sprinkler systems.”
Project Fire delivered a dedicated CDP session to SoPHE members that tackled the most relevant and up-to-date fire sprinkler regulations and recommendations for high-rise buildings. Project Fire has built an educational platform around these CPD sessions to support experts within the fire protection industry to install and maintain fire sprinkler systems efficiently and sustainably, while using best practice to make buildings safer from fire.
Andrew Fisher, Senior Lead for our national educational platform and training academy, headed up the first session in Birmingham in November.
A total of 20 SoPHE members attended the educational seminar, which covered commercial and residential sprinkler standards, sustainable building initiatives, fire sprinkler planning layouts and the current British Standards on fire protection in high-rise buildings. The attendees ranged from senior public health engineers to building project managers.
SoPHE is a national public health engineering society that brings together industry experts from across the UK to encourage continuous professional development and stimulate technical debate among society members and other building services experts. The society tackles pertinent national engineering topics such as water, drainage, energy, sustainability and updates on new and relevant legislation.
“In the wake of the Grenfell tower tragedy, the need for in-depth knowledge and up-to-date information on fire protection procedures and recommendations for high-rise buildings is paramount. The session was not only packed full of useful information, it was also really tailored for our members.”
Project Fire is currently working on rolling out the high-rise building seminar across the country as part of its wider educational platform initiative, which provides CPDs, academies, training sessions and educational seminars throughout the UK. Project Fire is also working closely with distributors to create a dedicated educational awareness programme across international markets.
“We have spent a long time honing our skills and experience to create industry leading fire sprinkler solutions that push the boundaries of design and efficiency. We now want to use this built up knowledge to be one of the driving forces that shine a light on fire protection for high-rise buildings and what can be done to improve the safety of people across the world who live and work in these modern towering buildings, by installing safe and efficient systems that go above and beyond the industry approved and government standards” Stuart Cain, Managing Director, Project Fire Products Ltd.
Project Fire continues to work closely with local authorities, engineering and fire sprinkler organisations to provide bespoke educational sessions and to push for heightened awareness and increased knowledge of best practice for fire sprinkler installation, maintenance, monitoring and testing systems.
Project Fire provides comprehensive and highly tailored CPD courses spanning the engineering and consultancy sectors.
At Project Fire, we have built up over 40 years of experience in automatic fire sprinkler testing and monitoring and continue to be a driving force for innovation, sustainability, and best practice within the industry. We use our experience to provide educational programs across the UK and internationally, providing clear and updated information on fire sprinklers as well as generating both awareness and providing deep cross-sector sprinkler knowledge. As industry leaders, we offer unique and bespoke sprinkler training and courses for international businesses and organisations from either our dedicated Technology Centre in Staffordshire or in-house training at external business premises.
CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Project Fire provides comprehensive and highly tailored CPD courses spanning the engineering and consultancy sectors.
We tailor each CPD course around individual business requirements and have successfully trained 1,200 people from companies including Arup, Aecom, Tenos, WSP, Hoare Lea, Ramboll and Bouygues. We have also worked closely with leading organisations such as SoPhe, RIFA, RICS as well several universities and Local Councils to provide innovative and interactive sprinkler CPD courses.
We have a growing range of topics to choose from, which are all accredited by the CPD Certification Service, including:
- An Overview of Fire Sprinkler Systems (BS EN 12845)
- Water Supplies for Sprinkler Systems
- Residential and Domestic Fire Sprinkler Systems (BS 9251)
- Fire Sprinklers and Watermist Systems: A Comparison
- Extent of Sprinkler Protection in Buildings
Once our CPDs are completed, each participant receives an official CPD certificate attesting their presence and their successfully completion of the course.
We provide on-site training and educational manufacturing placements which can be up-scaled and tailored around individual requirements. We have our very own Technology Centre in Staffordshire where our dedicated development and engineering team offer in-depth training courses which are designed for each unique business and organisation.
The placements include:
- Factory tour which includes live demonstrations of our innovative products – A look at the latest UK and EU regulations and recommendations
- A specialised and bespoke CPD tailored around the needs of the attendees
- On-site and hands-on training at our tech centre
SPECIALISED SKILLS TRAINING
Project Fire offer specialised and in-depth skills training for designers, contractors and apprentices. Our Livetap training school has been running for over 10 years and is recognised for delivering comprehensive and in-depth sessions which cover both the theoretical and practical aspects of carrying out on-site works.
We also offer similar short courses which cover installation, commissioning, and servicing of our Pressurecheck and Zonecheck Addressable systems.
Our specialised skills courses include:
- LPS Basic & Intermediate Design Competence Review examinations
- LPC training to compliantly design sprinkler systems
- Sprinkler fitting for industrial and commercial buildings under BS EN 12845
- Sprinkler fitting training for domestic and residential buildings under BS 9251
- Training for sprinkler inspection, testing and maintenance
For more information on our educational focus or to book on one of our dedicated fire sprinkler courses please contact us.
Project Fire worked with the renowned Glasgow School of Arts to ensure that one of their landmark campus buildings is kept safe from fire.
The School of Arts has had 2 fires on their campus in both 2014 and 2018. Both fires started in the Macintosh building during renovation works, which were public funded, much like the Notre Dame catastrophe.
90% of the listed building was saved after the first fire but cost £35 million in subsequent restoration costs. In 2018, the fire totally destroyed the historic building and a subsequent strategy is being put in place to dismantle and reconstruct the Macintosh building as part of a campus-wide regeneration project. A comprehensive investigation is also being carried out by Scottish Fire and Rescue as to the cause of the fire.
Project fire was asked to work on making the Stow building fire safe. Stow College is a landmark building and has been a part of Glasgow’s educational landscape for 80 years. The Glasgow School of Arts bought Stow college in 2016 and planned to carry out an extensive refurbishment plan to innovate the 1930’s building while keeping its character.
However, since the two Macintosh fires, the School of Arts decided that the priority was to fully protect the building from fire and has used a substantial part of their regeneration budget to ensure that the best fire protection products are installed in their campus building so that faculty and students are kept safe and to mitigate any further fire damage costs.
Project Fire was asked to carry out a full sprinkler retro-fit in the landmark building which included an addressable system, 4 Gemini (in four comms rooms) and 7 Zonechecks (five in the risers, two in ceiling voids). Project Fire tailored this solution to the exact needs of the College which will provide:
- Around the clock monitoring of system components
- Fully automated routine testing
- Pre-action Gemini sprinkler heads which protect the server rooms with double knock system
- A life safety system
The Glasgow School of Arts wanted the building to be completed quickly so that Stow College could be used as part of its campus. Project Fire worked closely with Ketallen Mechanical services, who installed the system, to ensure work is completed quickly and as safely. The contractors worked over the Christmas period to ensure that the system is safely installed and so that faculty and students can move in as soon as possible.
“We are the on-site electrical contractors for Glasgow School of Arts and make it our mission to ensure that any contracting work we do across all campus buildings are as safe as possible. We found working with Project Fire very productive and appreciate how hands on they were when supporting us. We particular found their Youtube tutorials helpful, which we have been using throughout the installation period.”
Project Fire was originally briefed on installing Gemini to protect the College’s comms rooms. After careful review of the project and collaboration with onsite contractors, the sprinkler monitoring and testing company subsequently added 7 Zonechecks to help the college automatically monitor and test for fire safety.
Jake Walker, Commercial Director, Project Fire added “We were very pleased to work with the historic Glasgow School of Arts. Since the two tragic fires in such an iconic building we were able to offer them the peace of mind in another campus building by installing robust and innovative fire prevention technology. We were especially glad that they were so open to installing monitoring and testing technology which will make Stow College safe for its entire lifecycle.”
“Independent tests have shown that sprinklers are 96% effective during a fire incident, outstripping any other fire protection solution.”
As the owner of a fire protection company, I know that sprinklers are the most effective way of protecting lives and property against fire. But that’s not because I’m in the business of sprinkler systems, it’s because there’s plenty of data to prove it. In fact, independent tests have shown that sprinklers are 96% effective during a fire incident, outstripping any other fire protection solution.
It’s also not a coincidence that most insurers will agree that when insuring a building, the most important factor is whether the owner has a sprinkler system and that the system was compliantly designed, tested, installed and maintained. The risk averse insurer knows that a fully functioning sprinkler system is the best way to save lives and protect a building so it will be the biggest factor in assessing an insurance claim.
Sprinklers have also been around for a while, so we’ve had plenty of time to test them. The first was installed over 140 years ago, in 1812. By 1890, we pretty much had a similar sprinkler system to what we have today.
So, if sprinklers are so reliable what causes them to fail 4% of the time?
Even now, in our modern, high-rise times we are still getting things wrong when it comes to sprinklers. When we think of sprinkler failure we should be pointing the finger right back at ourselves. The most common cause of failure isn’t the sprinkler system itself but us humans. In fact, out of the 4% failure rate only 2% is down to component malfunction the rest, human error. We also know that the biggest causes of sprinkler malfunction can be boiled down to 5 reasons –
“If sprinklers are so reliable what causes them to fail 4% of the time?”
SYSTEM SHUT OFF
The number one reason sprinklers fail is due to closed valves, contributing to a colossal 66% of sprinkler failure rates. A section of a sprinkler system is usually taken offline or ‘shut off’ for planned or unplanned maintenance by closing its local valve. When we say a system is shut off, we mean a control valve is closed which stops water flow past a certain section and from ultimately reaching the sprinkler heads.
Systems that are offline contribute to one of the biggest sprinkler failure misconceptions. Most of the time when a sprinkler fails it’s actually fully capable of stopping a fire but is prevented from activating because of human error. What’s more, the worrying fact is the percentage of closed valves failures could amount to a much higher figure.
Right now, there are hundreds of closed or unwired valves across UK homes and businesses. Over my company’s history, I have seen far too many situations where valves are still being left in the incorrect position and without proper monitoring, which is putting unnecessary lives at risk. The only reason that they haven’t malfunctioned yet is simply because there hasn’t been a fire. It is not an exaggeration to say that closed sprinkler valves are a ticking time bomb in many of our buildings across the country.
Another human related factor and 16% of the failure rate is manual intervention, or when someone gets in the way of letting the fire sprinkler carry out its function. Manual intervention includes building staff or firefighters accidently turning a system off before the sprinklers have operated, for example when a fire isn’t immediately visible. Another cause could be an obstruction which is installed after the sprinkler system, either preventing the sprinkler from detecting heat from the fire or expelled water from reaching the source of the fire.
It is my belief that if trade-offs are implemented when installing a sprinkler system, and what such as less means of escaping, then surely we have a duty to ensure the sprinkler system will operate correctly when they are most needed.
LACK OF MAINTENANCE
Although, sometimes corners are cut when it comes to testing and maintenance, lack of maintenance isn’t always purposeful. More often than not it’s poor organisation or lack of knowledge that is at fault. Lack of maintenance is however still a human error and contributes to 10% of sprinkler failure rates.
Building owners who rely too heavily on sprinkler contractors to inspect and maintain systems properly when it is their duty to be compliant is a maintenance issue we are currently sleep walking into. Building owners currently know far too little about the system they’re ultimately responsible for.
Sprinkler contractors also have a huge task taking on new service contracts, prices are very competitive, and they need to provide a variety of access equipment, risk assessments and method statements. Not forgetting that sites often have insufficient records or any knowledge of where the equipment is and building access restrictions can also play their part. It is common for a building owner to not have ‘as fitted’ drawings, making it impossible to know what equipment the owner has and what the contractor needs to maintain it. Add all of these factors together and it can trigger a domino effect where visit after visit we fail to carry out a compliant test, until it’s too late and fire hits.
NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE
When designing sprinkler systems, one of the most important considerations is determining occupancy classification because it has a huge impact on design and installation. Installing the wrong fire protection system is again human error related and down to knowing what sort of system you have installed and whether it is designed according to the correct risk for your premises. Currently, inappropriate systems contribute to 6% of sprinkler failures.
I strongly believe a sprinkler system must be evaluated throughout a building’s lifecycle. A building and its contents can change over time and with it the risk hazard. For instance, if a landlord or tenant has changed how they stockpile, now house flammable liquids, extended the property or has noticed a reduction in water supply, it will affect whether their sprinkler system is ‘fit for purpose’.
And finally, damaged sprinkler components, the only non-human related failure on the list, make up 2% of the 4% failure rate. Components typically become faulty when sprinkler systems are damaged by explosions or by the collapse of ceilings, roofs or the entire building and are very rare chain reactions. Currently 0.08% of all sprinkler activations fail because of damaged components.
“Closed valves are currently the leading cause of sprinkler failures and really shouldn’t be.”
HOW DO WE TACKLE THIS?
Closed valves are currently the leading cause of sprinkler failures and really shouldn’t be. Firstly, it’s clearly stated in regulations BS EN 12845, NFPA 25 and FM that all sprinkler valves require regular testing and inspection for their correct position. If all codes were followed, the majority of sprinkler failures would be averted. Technical Bulletin 203 also states, “stop valves controlling the flow of water to sprinklers shall be operated to ensure that the stop valve and any monitoring are in working order, and securely refastened in the correct mode”. This begs the question – why is testing not being carried out properly or even at all?
I, like imagine many people in the industry, look up whenever I walk into a building to see if there are sprinklers installed. But once I see them, it doesn’t always put my mind at ease because I know too well the reasons why they may not operate correctly. Instead, a reem of questions flood in, including – are there any closed valves? Is something obstructing them? Is the system tested and maintained correctly? I ask myself all these questions because we all must. We rely on these systems to save lives and property so, why aren’t we looking after them properly? For something so critical, we are far too complacent and let too many human errors affect the optimum safety of fire sprinklers.
All sprinkler experts agree that if sprinkler systems were installed at Grenfell tower then it would have saved many lives. But what if the sprinkler system was shut off or poorly maintained? Fire sprinklers should always be considered in any building, but it is also up to us to ensure that human error no longer contributes to loss of life.
Since Grenfell, many of us in the industry have felt that it is our responsibility to try and bring experts together to fight for change, whether its new laws that call for the installation of sprinklers or stricter codes and standards that combat manual intervention and negligence. If legislations conclude that fire sprinkler are the best solution to eliminate the risk of loss of life and property then, surely we as an industry and regulatory bodies have an inherent duty to fulfil that mandate. Because if we fail to do so, it ultimate results in loss of life, the stakes could not be higher
Compared to other industries we are playing catch up and must work hard to innovate and produce ways to reduce unnecessary sprinkler failure and develop sprinkler systems that are smarter, more efficient and automated where possible. I have been personally lobbying for a qualified, independent annual inspection as a mandatory requirement, very much like a vehicle MOT. This is something that VdS have currently adopted in Germany and should be crucial for a life safety system in the UK.
And all of this is achievable. We have the skills and resources in the UK to reduce the human impact on sprinkler failures and make compliance much easier for building owners. Because when fire sprinklers are correctly designed, tested and maintained they are without doubt the most reliable way to protect people, homes and businesses from fire.
Stuart Cain, is the CEO of Project Fire, a manufacturer of innovative fire protection products. Project Fire develop smart solutions that help make compliance easier, more efficient and sustainable.
Bernadette Hartley was one of the founding members of the NFSN, her passion and vision for the sprinkler cause has helped the Network to push for stricter regulations and bring awareness to the importance of sprinklers in the UK. The award is nationally recognised and highly regarded within our industry. We gave Project Fire a commendation because of their long-standing membership and proactivity within the Network and for being a globally recognised leader and innovator in the field of sprinkler protection.”
Project Fire Products Ltd was commended for 40 years of innovative and educational work in the field of fire sprinklers by the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) as part of the Bernadette Hartley Awards 2018.
The NFSN, founded in 1998, is one of the leading sprinkler bodies in the UK who proactively fight for more stringent fire sprinkler regulations in the built environment. They are also committed to working with key industry influencers to introduce improved standards and legislation that will safeguard individuals and communities from the threat of fire.
Project Fire was awarded the commendation at the Network’s General Members meeting, hosted by the Derbyshire Fire Rescue Service HQ, in Ripley this month.
Project Fire Products is a manufacturer of innovative fire sprinkler solutions. Based in Staffordshire, the company is proactively changing the industry through education, thought leadership and innovation, creating safer and more efficient fire sprinkler systems, which go above and beyond the industry approved and standard practices, helping to make buildings safer for people across the world.
Over the last 40 years Project Fire has developed a range of industry leading products that tackle common challenges for sprinkler system testing, management and compliance. One of their most innovative products is Zonecheck Addressable, the world’s first and only UL approved fire sprinkler testing and monitoring system which enables fully automated sprinkler system testing. Livetap is also a revolutionary method for carrying out sprinkler system modifications without the need to drain down, remaining live throughout any works carried out. Project Fire’s latest innovation ‘Firepod’ is set to change the way buildings can be designed, increasing efficiency, and streamlining the installation of sprinkler systems.
“We were delighted to receive the commendation from NFSN for our work within the fire sprinkler industry over the last 40 years. Innovation and education are the cornerstones of Project Fire, and we are very pleased to have been recognised for this achievement. We have always worked closely with fellow industry leaders, including the NFSN, who share the same goals to ensure that our buildings and people are kept safe from fire.”
LEADING THE FIRE SPRINKLER CAUSE
Other commendations on the day included Stuart Ruckledge, Fire Engineer from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue and Nick Coleshill, Watch Manager for the London Fire Brigade for their local fire sprinkler retrofitting projects for high-rise buildings. Both Stuart and Nick will be speakers at Project Fire’s Safe for Life event running on 2nd and 3rd May in London, along with keynote speaker, TV broadcaster and presenter Nick Ross. The event is an opportunity for industry experts to come together and discuss fire protections innovations and regulations for the international built environment.
“Building procedures and policies have also had to change, from how people use their premises to how many people move in and out of spaces. And as we slowly move away from the past few months of isolation, our workspaces and business structures are going to look very different.”
Covid-19 has completely transformed lives across the world in a matter of a few months. Businesses have had to quickly adapt to a changing landscape and a complex financial future. As we move out of lockdown, some companies are starting to re-open fully or partially while following strict government guidance. But what will our businesses look like after Coronavirus and how does fire safety fall into our changing workplaces?
During lockdown, a vast amount of our workforce was either working at home or furloughed. Businesses had to move with the rapidly changing pandemic. Thousands of organisations embraced remote working initiatives, which many have said is going to revolutionise the way we work in the long term. Experts were already predicting that 50% of the British workforce will work remotely by 2020, this is now set to rise exponentially and will have a direct effect on our physical workspaces after lockdown. Building procedures and policies have also had to change, from how people use their premises to how many people move in and out of spaces. And as we slowly move away from the past few months of isolation, our workspaces and business structures are going to look very different. But how does fire safety fit into our new business plans and how are we going to navigate this new unprecedented environment while adhering to compliant fire safety guidelines?
FIRE SAFETY SYSTEMS FOR POST LOCKDOWN BUSINESS
One thing is for sure, most aspects of the workplace is going to change – from commuting, the way physical spaces are set up, how working days are structured and physical journeys through a building. Business owners now need to prepare for distanced working and a higher level of hygiene to protect their staff while also protecting their business interests. And because workspaces are transforming it is naturally changing risk for any building.
Risk management, and especially fire risk assessments, should now be crucial parts of any business plan to re-open premises or bring their staff back to work. The maintenance and testing of fire safety equipment should have continued during lockdown where possible and safe to do so. Assess which buildings are covered by your fire safety systems, how those buildings have changed during the last few months and how they will continue to evolve are crucial elements of a lockdown transition plan. For example, fire sprinklers, fire alarms or other fire safety systems which cover multiple premises, where some have remained open and other have remained closed, would directly affect risk management and a fire assessment.
Anyone working in the fire safety sector is considered a key worker, and so if sprinklers haven’t been maintained, were isolated or have been found to be impaired while during lockdown then it is crucial that checks on your sprinkler system are carried out before a business reopens. Sprinkler systems that haven’t seen regular testing (even for short periods) are susceptible to failures, as routine testing exercises vital components. If a system has not been maintained for several weeks sprinkler valves and alarm gongs should be tested and inspected, and in cases where systems have been left for longer periods then a full overhaul is recommended by an approved sprinkler contractor.
“Our advice is to explain clearly to the client that this is their decision not to allow you to complete the scheduled work, and it is the role of the premises’ management to ensure they fulfil their fire safety obligations. If access permission is still not granted, you should document timings and communications to use later as evidence that you have acted responsibly for your clients.”
MITIGATING CHANGING RISK
Even before Covid-19, the organisation and maintenance of fire sprinkler systems can be very problematic. Site access, security, organising third parties and tenants can onerous and now, with even more restrictions exploring new remote technologies and automation are especially key. Not only can it take away unnecessary risk to life but eradicate many of the obstacles of carrying out routine maintenance and testing.
Our technology allows routine sprinkler system maintenance to be carried out remotely in full compliance with fire codes without the need for component or equipment access. For example, Zonecheck Addressable, provides fully automated testing for an entire building, whilst either still in lockdown or where new polices and restrictions make it difficult. Remote testing also mitigates any unnecessary risks especially where occupants are vulnerable such as hospitals and care homes.
Valvecheck is another solutions that are uniquely helpful for navigating new risk management plans and fire assessments for changing workplace environments. The addressable system can manage weekly alarm valve testing, flow-switch testing as well as exercise local zone valves remotely in compliance with the fire codes without ever having to leave the building’s management suite.
And lack of fire sprinkler maintenance and testing during lockdown isn’t the only fire safety issue that has posed a major problem during the current pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of false alarms are triggered throughout the UK every year and costs the UK economy an eye watering £1 billion. Year on year, the number of false alarm calls are increasing. Currently 40% of all fire alarm calls to the fire and rescue service are defined as false alarms, or an alarm signal triggered by something other than a fire and where a fire detection and alarm system has responded. During Covid-19, false alarms have continued to pose unnecessary resource strain and financial drain on emergency services, especially in hospitals, which has put key workers, vulnerable people and patients at even more risk than they are already currently facing.
In the end, even in these extraordinary situations, fire safety cannot be put on hold and should in fact be a the first priority on any building management safety measures. Effective and smart fire safety systems not only save lives they also provide compliant testing and monitoring that reduces costs and maintenance time, which is especially important for businesses post lockdown. Automatic sprinkler solutions can help building owners and businesses adapt to the remote and socially distanced environment that we now live in while also ensuring that their organisations financial health and business longevity is protected.
Fire sprinklers are now mandatory in any high-rise flats that are higher than 11 metres, when previously it was from 30. A historic change in the right direction for fire prevention in residential buildings.
The government recently published amendments to the Approved Document B. Fire sprinklers are now mandatory in any high rise flats that are higher than 11 metres, when previously it was from 30. A historic change in the right direction for fire prevention in residential buildings.
Last month marked the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster, and the call for change in how fire prevention is managed in high rise buildings is finally being heeded. Although this is good news for the fire industry and the country as a whole, we still have a long way to go until residential properties are made completely safe from fire.
The Approved Document B amendments, along with others, have been in the pipeline for a long time. In April 2020, the government published its response to the building safer future consultation which was a direct product of Dame Judith Hackitt’s report, published in 2018 and commissioned by the Government in 2017. In the last few months, the government accepted 53 recommendations from the report and has been in favour of 871 responses in the consultation, which sanctioned not just an overhaul of the system but an entirely new regulatory system. This three year process also triggered the improvement of the Approved Document B, which states that sprinklers must be implemented in buildings that are more than 11m above ground level from the 26th November 2020. Any new residential and mixed-use buildings containing flats, or even work carried out on existing buildings from this date, will be obliged to follow the new legislative update and install sprinklers. The amendments also recommend that a review of the current fire system “may also be necessary” for buildings that are having extensions or work carried out from November 26th.
What’s more, the government has stated that further updates are envisaged in the future to implement further safety requirements. Parliament has also been considering a “Fire Safety Bill” which will amend the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 and provide greater clarity on the duties of the responsible person or duty holder for multi-occupied residential buildings. Once the bill is passed, the duty holder will be solely responsible for managing and reducing the risk of fire for common areas and the structure of the building.
“I, and many other voices in the industry, have long been campaigning for stricter sprinkler measures for high rises, especially since Grenfell Tower. A compliant and correctly installed sprinkler system can detect and control fire at the early stages of an incident and has time and again proven its value when protecting lives and property.”
As CEO for a fire sprinkler manufacturing company, the updates to the Approved Document B and other fire safety reforms couldn’t have come soon enough. I, and many other voices in the industry, have long been campaigning for stricter sprinkler measures for high rises, especially since Grenfell Tower. A compliant and correctly installed sprinkler system can detect and control fire at the early stages of an incident and has time and again proven its value when protecting lives and property.
The amendments mark a major success for industry organisations and lobbies, including BAFSA, NFSN, BSA, EFSN, NFCC and FPA, who have been tirelessly calling for change before and since Grenfell. Many fire fighters and fire industry professionals have also been sounding the alarm for decades, including Stuart Ruckledge, Staffordshire Fire, who correctly highlighted that our current definition of a high rise was unclear. These insistent voices have helped push the government to action and is why we are now seeing historic action. However even if we have seen what the government has stated is “the biggest change in building safety in a generation” now is not the time to put our foot off the pedal, now is the time to move into second gear.
Although the amendments mean we are heading in the right direction there is still much more to get done. Work must now be carried out on improving installation standards and approval schemes for residential sprinklers. I, and many industry experts, want residential sprinkler regulations to be more in line with commercial systems. It cannot be right that commercial systems are more resilient than residential properties where we live and spend most of our time. Sprinkler installations in the UK are almost always designed in accordance with both BS EN 12845 and a compliance and approval scheme such as LPS 1048 and the accompanying Red Book. This only allows the use of approved equipment and products to be used and in addition, only contractors certified against the scheme can install them and sign off the installation and commissioning certificate to prove compliance.. However, the same stringent regulations do not apply within residential installations (BS 9251), where you can still meet standards using non-approved or certified products and there is no requirement to be certified or audited. Testing and maintenance is also less frequent than their commercial counterparts. Surely, if these higher standards apply to commercial property, we should do the same for residential homes, where risk to life is arguably higher?
I am aware that further change is already approaching. The revised standard BS 9251 is now out for public consultation and is now more focused on residential building up to and over 45m, something that the new European standard for residential sprinkler systems EN 16925 does not cover. Also, the need for proving competency for installers on residential sprinkler projects is being addressed which I believe will have a positive impact on the consistency of installation. Although, the fact that sprinklers are only required inside the flats and not the common areas is fairly short-sighted, taking into account the additional cost would be minimum and far outweighs the added risk of not protecting these areas.
To avoid another high rise block disaster there’s still more to be done. As BAFSA correctly states, it is a “legal obligation that building owners ensure these systems are tested, maintained and serviced to ensure the system is effective and in good repair.” With the ever increasing work load in residential sector since Grenfell now is the time to ensure that installation practices are more stringent than ever. It is not enough to make sprinklers obligatory in high rises, the systems themselves need to be correctly installed and checked by competent professionals to ensure they are functioning correctly and properly maintained.
As the saying goes, we shouldn’t run before we can walk. And although I, like many of my colleagues welcome the amendments and all the reforms the government is putting in place, we all know there is still a long road ahead in keeping buildings and the people that live in them safe from fire.
CEO of Project Fire
“We’re excited to have added this new CPD to our range of presentations, bringing together multiple Fire & Rescue services to a collaborative & now IFE accredited 2 hour CPD. Engagement with this event not only encourages the collective interest and knowledge but also the obligation we have as industry experts to raise sprinkler awareness.”
Project Fire have teamed up with several Fire & Rescue Services across the UK to deliver a series of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) webinars aimed at furthering their knowledge of fire sprinklers. Working with several Fire Safety Inspectors Fire & Rescue Services across the UK, we have tailored our presentations to cover several topics that personnel at the Fire & Rescue Services felt would be beneficial in expanding their knowledge, in particular, what to do when attending a fire sprinkler activation (something we have first-hand experience with).
The CPD training has now been formally validated by the Institute of Fire Engineers and all delegates who attend will receive accreditation. Due to high demand and a very positive response we have had to include additional dates for the program. So far, we are expecting around 50-70 delegates per session from Fire Protection Engineers, Head of Prevention and Protection, Fire Safety Advisors and Inspectors to Firefighters.
These online sessions are presented by Andrew Fisher, Training Officer at Project Fire (who also curates Project Fire’s Sprinkler Talk, a free weekly bite sized webinar) and will provide constructive updates on current legislation, building regulations and British Standards for both commercial and residential properties as well as an overview of sprinkler systems, the different types and application, best practice and sustainability as well as service and maintenance requirements, performing inspections and what to do when attending a sprinkler activation.
“It’s fantastic of Project Fire to share their expertise, and we are now much better prepared when attending sprinkler activation. Really useful CPD, relaxed informative delivery.”
Following a very successful trial with Cleveland Fire Brigade, over the coming weeks we will play host to Hertfordshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Bedfordshire, Essex County, Cambridge and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Services.
Project Fire have a growing range of CPD presentations covering topics such from the latest fire sprinkler codes to sprinkler vs mist as well as their free weekly bite sized CPD webinars Sprinkler Talk. For more information or to book your free CPD webinar please get in touch.