Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is again supporting the National Fire Chief Council’s (NFCC) National Fire Sprinkler Week campaign, which this year runs from Sunday 19 May to Friday 24 May.

The aim of the campaign is to highlight the benefits of having sprinkler systems fitted in homes and businesses. Current building legislation does not require sprinklers to be fitted in most homes in England, whereas Wales and Scotland require higher levels of fire protection for their communities.

The NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network carried out research to investigate the effectiveness and reliability of sprinkler systems. They found that sprinkler systems operate on 94% of occasions, demonstrating very high reliability. In addition, when they do operate, they extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasions. The evidence also demonstrates that, in both converted and purpose-built flats, sprinklers are 100% effective in controlling fires.

Terry McDermott, the NFCC lead for sprinklers, said: “The evidence speaks for itself – our research proves that sprinklers are very effective and provide strong fire protection as part of a fire safety package. Wales and Scotland recognise this and have implemented measures to make their communities safer from fire; we want to see these same changes in England and Northern Ireland as a matter of urgency. Fire does not discriminate and is just as dangerous in England as it is in the rest of the UK.”

As part of the campaign, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is working with partners to highlight the benefits of sprinklers in residential care homes, and with a number of housing providers to press for sprinkler systems to be retrofitted in higher risk premises, including high rise blocks.

The Service is also responding to the current Government consultation on design and construction of schools to push for all new schools to have sprinklers fitted.

Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “We continue to lobby for the fitting of sprinklers to be a requirement under Building Regulations in all higher risk buildings such as high-rise residential, care homes, hospitals, schools and large factories and warehouses. Sprinklers save lives, protect property and significantly reduce the devastating effects of fire on our communities. Our sprinkler demonstration unit has already been out and about, helping to raise awareness and bust some of the myths associated with sprinklers.”

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “As a Council, we recognise the value of sprinklers and are installing them in our high-rise sheltered accommodation block of flats. This will help to keep our most vulnerable residents even safer, protect the building and residents’ homes and minimise the risk to firefighters in the event of a fire.”

Poole Housing Partnership is already working with the Service to fit sprinkler systems in some of its buildings. A spokesman said: “Poole Housing Partnership and BCP Council are committed to ensuring the highest standards of fire safety for all residents. We work closely with DWFRS to understand what this means and are proud to be fitting sprinkler fire suppression systems over the coming months, keeping both residents and fire service officers safe.”

The NFCC is asking people to support their campaign by following the hashtag #ThinkSprinkler on social media to raise awareness of sprinkler systems. More information can also be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/sprinklers

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