A limited uptake
When a fire occurs, the long-term consequences to a business’s reputation can be as devastating as the initial damage. Disrupted supply chains, disappointed customers, a laid-off workforce – the effects are often grim. Yet all of these problems can potentially be avoided by the adoption of sprinkler systems. Unfortunately, their uptake in this country is not as widespread as it should be.
Fires can be catastrophic for any business, so it is perhaps surprising to learn that there is no legal requirement in the UK for the majority of businesses to install sprinklers. Currently, only businesses with warehouses measuring more than 20,000 m2are obliged to fit a fire sprinkler system. Yet in Europe, many countries expect sprinklers to be a priority fire protection in most cases. The result is that European businesses are far better prepared and equipped to deal with the effects of a fire than their UK competitors.
Challenging the myths
The regulatory situation in the UK regarding sprinklers has led to some businesses not giving them the consideration they deserve. This view has been compounded by a number of myths derived from films and TV shows as to how sprinklers actually operate. For dramatic effect, filmmakers tend to show every sprinkler being activated during a fire, causing widespread water damage. The more mundane reality is that only those sprinklers directly next to the fire are triggered. In fact, the majority of fires are contained by just two sprinkler heads. It is important that businesses don't allow themselves to be misled by media misconceptions.