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Sprinklers are the equivalent to having a firefighter ready and waiting in every room of your home/business.

General information about sprinklers

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has been very proactive in the promotion of fire sprinkler systems in both the domestic/residential and commercial environment. It is a key objective of the Service to 'Protect Life, Property and other Interests' and we recognise that promoting sprinkler systems is an important part of helping us achieve this aim locally.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is also a member of the National Fire Sprinkler Network and actively involved in raising the profile of sprinklers at a national level.

For over a century, sprinkler installations have been successfully safeguarding commercial buildings. They can best be regarded as combined fire detection and extinguishing systems. They provide continuous protection throughout the day and night, irrespective of whether or not the premises are occupied.

Fires in Industrial and Commercial premises can have a serious impact on both national and local economy. There is a risk of significant job losses with subsequent social and economic impact on the community as well as environmental damage.

Nationally, fires in schools are an increasing problem causing many millions of pounds worth of damage. Installation of sprinklers into school premises will reduce the massive cost to society and ensure less disruption to students following fires.

Fire sprinklers can:

  • Protect those people who are in the room of origin of the fire (whereas conventional fire protection tends to focus on enabling persons elsewhere in the building to escape);

  • Deal with fires when they are small and more easily controllable;

  • Limit the production of smoke and fumes;

  • Drastically reduces the damage caused by a fire and therefore minimises the disruption and time taken to achieve business continuity and may negate the need for re-housing;

  • Cost the equivalent of installing a central heating system;

  • Cost very little to maintain;

  • Save lives.

Is a sprinkler system suitable for my building?

The fire service nationally has developed considerable experience and knowledge of sprinkler systems. Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has a lead officer in your local Protection team who will be able to offer you specific advice.

Leaflet - Think Sprinkler (new window, PDF 809KB)

Video - Think Sprinkler


Transcript - sprinkler video (new window, Word Document 22KB)

Video - sprinklers (new window, Movie 32189KB)

Sprinkler demonstration

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service conducted a live fire demonstration to witness the benefits of sprinkler systems.  

Find out more about our live sprinkler demonstration

Sprinklers in new homes and residential sprinklers

Sprinklers are the equivalent to having a firefighter ready and waiting in every room of your home.

The vast majority of fires and resulting deaths and injuries take place in the home. Even a small fire can cause a massive amount of damage to property. Every day two people die and 50 are injured in fires in the UK.

While smoke alarms can warn of a fire they do nothing to actually control the fire itself. This is where residential sprinkler systems can make all the difference - by helping to control the fire or even extinguish it completely.

Residential sprinklers

Fire sprinklers are by far the most efficient and effective safety devices available. No-one has ever died in a fire in a home fitted with residential sprinklers.

The sprinklers themselves are small, neat and blend in with the decor. The heads are connected through a system of pipes to the water mains or an alternative secure source of water. Most rooms require only two sprinkler heads to afford complete protection.

Residential fire sprinklers are not expensive. They cost around £1/sq ft in new home or about £1500 for a three bedroom house - typically the cost of the carpets. Sprinklers help to control the fire or even extinguish it completely.

A residential sprinkler system is designed to use just enough water to control the fire. Typically one sprinkler head discharges 38-40 litres of water a minute compared to a firefighter's hose at 1000+ litres a minute. This minimises water damage and a room protected by sprinklers can often be back in use within a couple of hours.

Sprinklers - The Myths

Myth: When there is a fire all the sprinkler heads go off at once.
Wrong. Each head is independent and only the head(s) adjacent to the fire go off.

Myth: Water damage is as bad as the fire damage.
Wrong. A Typical sprinkler discharges 55 litres per minute. A firefighting hose discharges over 600 litres per minute. You can expect a sprinkler to discharge less than 5% of the water used by the fire service.

Myth: Sprinklers can go off accidentally.
Wrong. Records show that the chance of an accidental discharge from a sprinkler is in the region of 16 million to one.

Myth: Sprinkler Systems are expensive.
Wrong. It is estimated that the costs of a sprinkler system can be recovered over a period of about 10 years. This is achieved through reduced insurance premiums and in larger organisations through less disruption to business continuity when a fire occurs. Installed in a new building a sprinkler system should not cost more than 1-2% of the total build cost. To fit a system in an existing house will cost £2000.

Sprinklers - The Facts

Environmentally friendly
Sprinklers help to protect the environment by controlling a fire in its early stages, preventing airborne and water run-off pollution.

Sprinklers save water
Statistics show that widespread use of sprinklers could save up to 96% of the 5.6 billion litres of water used annually in the UK to fight large fires. This is equivalent to three months supply of water for the entire population of a city the size of Leeds.

Building design flexibility
Sprinklers can save on building costs because under Building Regulations larger compartment sizes may be constructed. Reduced boundary and extended distances to fire exists are also permitted.

Legal protection
Owner/occupiers/employers can be held legally responsible for the consequences of a fire if adequate fire precautions have not been taken. Sprinklers protect the lives of firefighters and are fully supported by fire services.

Easy to install
Sprinkler systems can be fitted into existing buildings. One company installed sprinklers into a major London Hotel whilst the hotel was over 95% occupied.

Sprinkler systems have been proven in use for well over 100 years, during which time they have a 99% success rate worldwide. Systems over 100 years old are still in full working order today.

There are 40 million sprinklers fitted worldwide each year.

Life safety record
In the UK there has never been a fire death in a building with a fully maintained sprinkler system.

Sprinklers save money
Losses from fires in buildings with sprinklers are estimated to be only one tenth of those in unprotected buildings.

Limited Water Damage
Firefighters often use 20 times more water from hoses to do the same job as a sprinkler. In tackling the Windsor Castle fire 7 million litres of water was used.

Cost effective to install
The cost of installing a sprinkler system is roughly equivalent to carpeting the same building. All the UK Royal Palaces could have sprinklers installed for the cost of the Windsor Castle fire.

Insurance discounts
Insurance companies can offer large discounts for buildings that are protected by sprinklers.

Sprinkler Guidance for Schools from the Local Government Association

Recommendations for the design and installation of sprinkler systems can be found in the following documents:

Toolkit for schools (new window PDF 92 kb)

You may need to download Adobe Reader (opens in new window) to view files in PDF format.

Related information

BS 9251:2005 Sprinkler systems for residential and domestic occupancies - Code of practice

BS EN 12845:2003 Fixed firefighting systems - Automatic sprinkler systems - Design, installation and maintenance

Copies of these documents are available from:
British Standards Institute
389 Chiswick High Road
W4 4AL

Tel: 020 8996 9000

The Fire Protection Association publish an industry standard:
LPC Rules for Automatic Sprinkler Installations ISBN:1-902790-25-1

Copies are available from:
London Road,
Moreton in Marsh

Email: Tel: 01608 812500

Further information

Chief Fire Officers Association (opens in new window)

National Fire Sprinkler Network (opens in new window)

British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (opens in new window)

Business Sprinkler Association (opens in new window)

Fire Protection Association (opens in new window)

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Contact Address
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  • Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service Headquarters,
    Sadler Rd, Winsford Cheshire,
    CW7 2FQ

    TEL: 01606 868700
    SMS: 07624 808301