Sprinkler systems in the home?

Home owners often ask what fire precautions are effective and economical for private houses. Sprinkler systems immediately come to mind, already widely used in public buildings they can be extremely effective in the home. When a house is at the planning stage it is child's play to incorporate fire protection. And why not choose safe materials for installations for your safety? Sprinkler systems with copper tubes create safety because they themselves are safe. They do not burn and can withstand high temperatures and pressures - these are only some of the great advantages of copper. And it is no problem to retrofit an older property with a copper sprinkler system.


How sprinkler systems work

Automatic sprinkler systems have an advantage over fire alarms because the fire is not only registered, but also attacked with water. A sprinkler head will operate when it reaches a set temperature (sometimes this is 30°C above max. room temperature) and it will then pour water over the fire area. Only the sprinkler heads in the vicinity of the fire will operate, not the whole system. Because they react to heat, one or two sprinklers are often sufficient to extinguish small fires. Enormous water damage often occurs when the fire brigade has to be called in. Sprinklers are activated only where they are needed.

Croydon sprinkler save 14th September 2015

On Monday 14th September a fire occurred in the kitchen of a flat in a Croydon flat when a tea towel, placed too near to a toaster, caught fire. The occupier , an elderly gentleman, was asleep in his living room at the time. The sprinkler head actuated in the kitchen area, extinguished the fire and alerted staff via the alarm system activated by the sprinkler flow switch. Staff who attended managed to safely evacuate the occupant from the smoke filled flat.

London Fire Brigade crews attended and isolated the sprinkler system but there were no fire-fighting measures required. A sprinkler engineer attended later that day to replace the head. The home manager remarked that it appears that the sprinklers may have potentially saved this gentleman’s life.

The building in question is an “Extra Care” Sheltered Scheme which is owned by the London  Borough of  Croydon and was the first of six such schemes in Croydon to have been retro-fitted with sprinklers. This was following London Fire Brigade safety visits prompted concerns regarding the number of vulnerable residents in some of the schemes in the Borough.

This ‘save’ demonstrates how effective partnership working between FRS and Housing Providers can be in protecting vulnerable occupants, and the clear advantages of fitting suppression systems in such cases.