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)

Sprinkler system saves building and stock

A sprinkler system has helped prevent a major Cheshire medical distribution company from going up in smoke after a fire at the premises.

A total of 12 fire engines and an aerial platform attended the incident at Reliance Medical Limited on Radnor Park Industrial Estate, Back Lane, Congleton,  just after 3am on Thursday 16th February.

Simon Gibbins, Head of Protection explained: “This building contained a huge amount of stock, with the company employing some 50 people.  Thankfully, a sprinkler system contained the fire to one area which, although some stock was damaged, meant the majority of stock and the building were saved and will be back in operation within just a couple of days.

“Companies very rarely recover from a fire such as this, but the sprinkler system did its job and minimised the impact on the rest of the building, containing the flames to one area."

When they arrived crews found a fire in a single storey building. Hose reel and main water jets were set up to tackle the fire. Water was also sprayed on the buildings next to the one on fire to stop it from spreading.

By 7.30 crews had successfully dealt with the fire and prevented it from spreading to other buildings. A fire investigation is being carried out and initial thoughts are that the cause is electrical.

Simon added: “Sprinklers work to suppress the flames and although the there was damage, the rest of the building escaped this fire. We would urge all business across the county to fit sprinklers in order to protect their business, their staff, customers and our firefighters. ”

Reliance Medical Managing Director Andy Pear is today feeling the benefits of having sprinklers. He said: “Whilst work has been paused for a couple of days to allow for us to take stock, without the sprinkler system we’d be talking two years, if not longer. As it is, we will be back to business as usual by Saturday.

“I would encourage any business which doesn’t have sprinklers to think very carefully about what they would do in a situation like this, and how their business would survive a fire. We certainly know and appreciate the value of sprinklers here at Reliance Medical."


Here is Reliance Medical Limited managing director Andy Pear talking about the fire and how the sprinkler system and firefighter actions averted a major disaster for his company.


Map of fires and sprinkler saves (opens in new window) 

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: fpa@thefpa.co.uk 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)

Related images


Related documents