Fire chief calls for sprinklers in new homes
A sprinkler activating

Related page: Fire sprinklers in the home

29 November 2011

Chief Fire Officer Mark Jones is supporting a national campaign for sprinklers to be fitted in newly-built homes.

The campaign was launched by the National Fire Sprinkler Network, a non-profit organisation which works with all of the UK’s fire and rescue services and local, national and European government organisations.

Three months ago, a sprinkler system installed earlier this year by Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service in the home of a person identified as being at high risk from fire prevented a kitchen fire from developing into a potentially life-threatening incident.

Mr Jones said: “Automatic sprinkler systems are exceptionally effective through their ability to control a fire in its early stages, minimising the risk and damage from fire until firefighters arrive.

“I feel that these protective systems are vital in certain types of home and desirable in all new constructions. Much has been done to lower the costs of fitting them, and they now offer a comparatively low-cost method of reducing risk to vulnerable people."

Although the number of lives claimed by fires in the UK has been falling – from about 800 a year in the 1980s to 212 last year - too many people, particularly elderly people who live alone, are dying unnecessarily.

Mr Jones added: “Sprinklers and smoke alarms only operate when required – until then, they just sit there unobtrusively, waiting to save lives.

“I have selfish reasons for supporting the campaign too – as well as reducing risks to those we serve and protect, sprinklers can help to reduce risks to my firefighters who bravely enter buildings on fire.

“This matter must be addressed by politicians, planners and house-builders to introduce legislation that makes the fitting of sprinkler systems in homes mandatory, starting with new-build properties.”

In Wales, legislation requiring the inclusion of domestic sprinkler systems in all new-build residential properties was passed unanimously and received Royal Assent in April 2011. Now the National Fire Sprinkler Network is campaigning for this to be extended to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

An on-line petition has been started calling for fire sprinklers to be made compulsory in all new homes. If you would like to support it, please visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/4409