Think Sprinkler campaign 2018.




There is clear evidence that sprinklers can be effective in stopping fires spreading and putting them out. They can also:

  • reduce death and injury from fire
  • reduce the risks to firefighters
  • protect property and heritage
  • reduce the effects of arson
  • reduce the environmental impact of fire
  • reduce fire costs and the disruption to the community and business
  • permit design freedoms and encourage innovative, inclusive and sustainable architecture.

By limiting fire development and significantly reducing the amount of smoke, CO2 and other pollutants, sprinklers can increase the sustainability and life expectancy of buildings. They use much less water to put a fire out than fire brigade hoses which means that there is also much less water damage caused.

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service would like to promote a better understanding of the benefits of sprinklers to achieve safer business and community sectors and reduce the impact of fire on people, property and the environment.

Facts on fires and fire sprinklers

Facts on fires and fire sprinklers

The impact from fire loss is far reaching and tackling a fire at its earliest stages is vital for the well-being of people, properties, the environment and the economy.

  • Commercial fires cost more than £2 billion to the UK’s economy per year.
  • Warehouse fires alone cause a direct financial loss to business in England and Wales of £232 million per year.
  • Nine billion litres of water is needlessly wasted per year on commercial fires in the UK.
  • It is cost beneficial to install fire sprinklers in warehouses greater than 2,000m2 in size.
  • The average cost of a fire in a domestic property is estimated at £44,523.
  • Out of the 380 fire related deaths in Britain in 2011/12, 287 occurred in residential dwellings.
  • Residential dwelling fires cause more non-fatal hospital casualties than fires in any other building types.
  • The Department of Local Communities and Government estimate the cost of a fire fatality at £1.65m and £185,000 for a serious injury.
  • Fire sprinklers on average represent approximately 1-2% of the cost of a new build.

Sprinklers have been proven to reduce the impact of fire. They are a potentially lifesaving tool that bring many benefits. However, we have found there are some common misconceptions about sprinklers that are stopping people installing them. These sprinkler myths need to be dispelled.

  • Myth: In a fire all the sprinkler heads go off together.
    Fact: Only sprinkler heads directly affected by the fire are triggered.

  • Myth: Water from the sprinkler causes more damage than the fire.
    Fact: Sprinklers attack the fire quickly and directly, so less water is needed. As they also operate the fire alarm, the flow can be quickly turned off when the fire is out.

  • Myth: A smoke detector will always provide enough protection.
    Fact: Operational smoke detectors do save lives, but they do nothing to extinguish a growing fire.

  • Myth: Sprinklers go off accidentally.
    Fact: The odds of winning the lottery are greater than the 16 million to one chance of a sprinkler malfunction.

Types of premises

Types of premises

Residential care homes

Older people, people with mental health problems and those with mobility issues are the groups most at risk from fire. We consider that all residential care homes should be fitted with sprinklers.

In Scotland there is already a requirement within Building Standards for all new build residential care buildings to have automatic fire suppression systems installed. We believe that there should be the same level of protection here in West Sussex.


Hundreds of schools in the UK have a fire each year. The impact of these fires is significant, not just in financial terms, but also in terms of the devastating effect on the communities they serve and the disruption to students, teachers and families.

The effects on children’s education are not confined to lost course work but often include longer travelling times, disrupted social groups and poorer facilities. If sprinklers were considered at the design stage of building a new school or the refurbishment of existing buildings, costs could be kept to a minimum - as low as 1% of build costs.

Commercial premises

There is a compelling case to be made for sprinklers in any commercial premises on the basis of loss of production or interruption to business.

It is a recognised fact that 85 per cent of small and medium businesses that suffer a serious fire either never recover or cease trading within 18 months. The installation of sprinklers in these types of premises could prevent this.

Domestic premises

Fires in the home still account for the greatest number of fire deaths and injuries each year. While it would be ideal for all domestic premises to have sprinklers, it is recognised that this is not practical or realistic.

We would encourage developers, residents of West Sussex and social housing landlords to encourage the installation of sprinklers in the homes of the most vulnerable people - young people, old people, people with mental health problems and those who have mobility problems.

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Think Sprinkler campaign


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