(Reposted with permission from the BAFSA website)
“Safer High Rise Living… the Callow Mount Sprinkler Retrofit Project” is a major report, published by BAFSA in 2012, which demonstrated that it is cost effective and practical to retrofit automatic fire sprinklers in existing high-rise tower blocks in particular in those constructed between 1950 & 1970.
Download “Safer High Rise Living… the Callow Mount Sprinkler Retrofit Project” HERE
It describes how a pilot project, sponsored by the sprinkler industry and overseen by the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association resulted in the successful installation of sprinklers in a 13 story, 1960s tower block in Sheffield – Callow Mount.
It has long been the view of many fire safety professionals that automatic fire suppression systems could be used to supplement existing fire safety provision in high rise buildings and compensate in locations where this might not be adequate.
A primary objective of the project was to determine the practicality of installing a complete system without the need to decant residents.
Taking less than four weeks in total to complete the work, the approach adopted demonstrated once and for all how significant improvements in life and building safety can be achieved with minimal disruption by retrofitting an automatic fire suppression system.
The report reviews:
· the identification of risks associated with high rise blocks
· the direct and indirect consequences of fire in-rise residential premises
· the relevant recommendations in current fire safety legislation and guidance documents
· research into the use of sprinklers in residential and domestic premises
This 2012 report clearly demonstrated that:
it is possible to retrofit sprinklers into occupied, high-rise, social housing without decanting residents
such installations can be undertaken on a fast track basis
tenants, residents and their families feel safer knowing they are better protected with a sprinkler system in place
the potential trauma and disruption to individuals and communities following a fire would be reduced
the minimum impact of a fire in a sprinkler-protected block will substantially reduce the need for rehousing tenants and major refurbishment following a fire
the true installation and whole life-costs can permit a cost-benefit analysis of sprinkler installations in relation to potential repair and rehousing costs following a fire
retrofitting sprinklers as part of a major refurbishment project would form only a small part of the overall costs
the retrofit design and installation can be adapted for high-rise blocks with different layouts
The final cost of the project in 2012 produced an average cost per flat of just under £1,150 (£1,148.63) which included the provision of sprinklers in utility rooms, common areas, bin stores and an office.
In consequence of the success of the Sheffield pilot project findings, BAFSA and the Sprinkler Coordination Group recommended that the option of retrofitting automatic fire suppression systems should be properly considered by the relevant stakeholders when considering or planning:
· major refurbishment programmes of high rise accommodation
· undertaking and reviewing statutory fire risk assessments
· implementing measures to rectify deficiencies disclosed by fire risk assessments
· considering the cost-effectiveness of various fire safety measures
· compensating for deficiencies or defects in fire safety provision or non-compliances with current fire safety standards (such as the existence of only one staircase)
It is also very clear that automatic fire suppression systems:
enhance the safety of residents and other occupants of high-rise blocks
reduce the risks to life and injury experienced by firefighters working in high rise blocks.
reduce the social impact of fire on occupants, their families, and neighborhoods
reduce the costs and financial impact of a fire on hard-pressed local authorities and landlords
These findings permit the national government, local housing authorities and private sector housing associations to give informed consideration to the wider use of automatic fire suppression systems as part of a comprehensive fire safety strategy for existing, unprotected high-rise blocks across the UK.
Since 2012 BAFSA in collaboration with the UK Fire & Rescue Services has invited Local Authorities, Central Government and Housing Associations to more than 20 free to attend seminars on the subject.