Sprinkler Systems and UK Law
Feeling confused about fire protection laws for your business? You’re not alone. The regulations surrounding what you absolutely must do to remain compliant, and what’s considered to be ‘nice to have’, are very complicated for commercial buildings. We’re here to clear everything up.
Do businesses legally require sprinkler systems?
Not all UK businesses are legally required to have a sprinkler system in place. Current UK law states that only those businesses spanning 20,000 square metres or more (uncompartmented) must install life-saving sprinklers. However – and this is where it can get confusing – if a business employs more than 5 people, or is open to the public, business owners do have a legal requirement to conduct a fire risk assessment. The results of that risk assessment may identify a need for a tailored sprinkler system.
This means that, while UK law may not specifically label commercial sprinkler systems as mandatory, they may still be legally required to minimise the risk of fire within the workplace. Confusing, isn’t it?
Fighting for change
The truth is that this is a complex area, and many organisations across the UK are fighting for change. In 2018, the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, headed by Dame Judith Hackett, found that the system is ‘not fit for purpose’. The review stated that England’s sprinkler laws appear to be lagging far behind those in Europe, where some countries now require systems for commercial spaces measuring just 3,000 square metres.
As a result, the Fire & Rescue Service has, to date, launched a number of campaigns, such as Sprinklers Save Lives. The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has been hosting annual sprinkler awareness weeks (#ThinkSprinkler) in an effort to facilitate change. The NFCC has taken a data-driven approach to supporting amendments to current building regulations, undertaking research which shows that sprinklers operate automatically in 94% of fire instances, and are able to control fires in 99% of cases.
Does my business need a sprinkler system?
The results of a fire risk assessment will be different for all businesses. However, reports from the Fire & Rescue Service show that 85% of SMEs that have experienced a fire cease trading within 18 months. This means that taking necessary action now, to protect your business in the future, could make a big difference.
Commercial sprinkler system design ensures that sprinkler heads are strategically positioned for each space, in an effort to offer the very best level of protection. This helps to keep not only your premises safe, but also your employees, your customers, and yourself. Sprinklers act as an automatic first line of defence, and help to slow the spread of fire, providing more time for safe and effective evacuations. For additional protection, some businesses opt for dry and wet risers as a second line of defence.
Protecting your business
We’re a Level 1 Loss Prevention Council (LPC) Certificated Commercial Sprinkler Installer. We’ve seen first-hand how installing a business sprinkler system can benefit growing organisations. and help them to remain compliant with even the most complicated of building requirements. If you’re keen to protect and future-proof your business, get in touch with us on 01622 910080, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.