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"It`s like having a firefighter on duty in every room of your house, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week"

The vast majority of fire deaths and injuries happen in the home.

Sprinklers in the home are already saving lives and reducing fire damage:

The Studley Green estate in Wiltshire was the first housing development in Europe to be fitted with domestic sprinklers, following its rebuild in 1999. A property in Kingswood Chase had its sprinklers activated when fire broke out in a first floor bedroom.

Two crews from Trowbridge fire station were called to the address at 6.38pm, but found the blaze had been extinguished by the sprinklers. As a result, the fire damage was minimal, and there was no risk to the house’s occupants, who were downstairs at the time. Although the exact cause of the fire remains unclear, there were no suspicious circumstances.

Chief Fire Officer Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service Andy Goves said: “This is the third time that the sprinklers at Studley Green have done their job, and it is heartening to know that so little fire damage was caused. It is quite clear that this would have developed into a significant fire had the sprinklers not activated, affecting the bedroom and potentially the whole top floor of the house.”

Barry Hughes, Chief Executive of Selwood Housing, which owns and manages the Studley Green estate, said: “Although it is always distressing for the residents involved in a fire, thankfully the sprinklers reduced the damage to the home and the family were able to move back after just one night in temporary accommodation.”

In one town in Arizona in the United States, all new homes have been required to be fitted with sprinklers for the last 13 years. Sprinklers now protect 40% of the dwellings in Scottsdale. Recently Scottsdale published a 10-year report, which showed:

  • No fire deaths 
  • 80% reduction of fire injuries 
  • 80% reduction in property damage 
  • 95% reduction in water usage for fire control. 

It would be misleading to mention the American experience, however, without noting that many US homes are far more remote than most in the UK. In the US, firefighters may not arrive for some time in the event of a fire, so in rural areas sprinklers are all the more important.

Imagine having a firefighter in your house ready to put out a fire as soon as it starts.  That is exactly what sprinklers are - instant firefighters.

You seldom have more than 5 minutes to escape from a fire ... That includes you, your family, your home, your business, your school, your community.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service encourages sprinklers to be fitted in all types of buildings when they are built particularly where people may be sleeping.

In Your Home

These photos show the stages of a sprinkler being set off
Stages of a sprinkler being set off

Residential fire sprinklers are small. In fact, they fit in so well that you have to point them out for people to notice them. Average sized rooms may only need one sprinkler. They can be installed in ceilings or high on a wall and can be attached to the same water supply that feeds your home’s plumbing fixtures.

On 16th February 2011, Welsh Assembly Members voted to make Wales the first country in the world to make fire suppression systems (sprinklers) mandatory in all new homes.

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 and rescue 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.

Cost effective to install

The cost of installing a sprinkler system is roughly equivalent to carpeting the same building.
Insurance discounts.

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

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) near 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. A sprinkler can discharge less than 5% of the water used by the fire and rescue 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.

Use of sprinklers in houses in multiple occupation

Around 500 lives are lost each year to fire. The majority of these are likely to happen in rented accommodation and in particular Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Further Information

British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association
Richmond House, Broad Street, ECB7 4AH
Tel 01353 659187, Fax 01353 666619

Residential Sprinkler Association
Mill House, Mill Lane, Padworth, Nr Reading, Berks, RG7 4JX
Tel 0118 971 2322

The Chief Fire Officers Association
A Guide to Automatic water Suppression Systems (AWSS) and their practical application


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