Fire Sprinkler International Conference: A Summary

Following two years of COVID-related postponements, the Fire Sprinkler International Conference was finally held in London on 31st May and 1st June this year. Hosted by the European Fire Sprinkler Network (EFSN), in partnership with the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA), the event saw more than 50 industry experts and 300 attendees descend on the Park Plaza London Riverbank. The two-day conference provided a thorough overview of the current challenges and new advancements in the sprinkler system landscape, as well as looking at what’s next for fire protection.

Fire Sprinkler International 2022

The long-awaited 2022 conference brought together some of the biggest names and brightest minds in fire protection from across the world. This included London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner Paul Jennings, Fire Protection Research Foundation Executive Director Amanda Kimball, and Russ Fleming, former President of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) in the United States.

The most prominent topics on the programme this year included:

  • Changes to UK, European, and global fire safety regulations
  • Innovation in sprinkler design and fire protection systems
  • Sprinkler applications, with a focus on warehouse protection
  • Environmental considerations for water-based suppression systems
  • Testing & quality assurance

Event highlights

While the two days brought a non-stop agenda, there were two events that our team here at Eversafe thought to be particularly interesting and relevant to today’s fire protection landscape.

The first was the approach to ‘stay put’ policies. The subject of much debate, these policies state that, should a fire break out in an apartment block or block of flats, residents should stay put unless a) the fire is within their own property or b) heat and smoke are affecting them. Eindhoven University of Technology Fire Safety Engineering Fellow Ruud van Herpen weighed in on the topic, believing that such policies will only be effective if buildings are equipped with fire sprinkler systems.

He stated that “the time needed for evacuating a building exceeds in many cases the available safe time. The failure probability of an evacuation concept might not be acceptable in these cases, and a stay-in-place concept is probably more realistic.” He went on to explain that, in order for stay-in-place to be viable, the spread of smoke and fire outside that area needs to be reliably contained, and that sprinkler systems are an excellent option for doing so. This highlights the importance of sprinklers in residential blocks.

A further topic of interest – and a common theme running throughout the event – was the role of sprinklers in the heavily automated warehouses of the future. Alan Brinson, Executive Director of the European Fire Sprinkler Network, outlined that as businesses are automating warehouse operations more and more, the need for effective and efficient fire protection is rapidly increasing. Potential solutions were explored, while Zurich’s Stuart Lloyd considered the impact on insurance.

The future of sprinkler systems

Of course, for us here at Eversafe, perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the conference was envisioning what the future of sprinkler systems would look like. As expected, the main topic of discussion was exploring how water-based fire suppression could be made more environmentally friendly. ‘Smart’ systems that minimise water use were contemplated as a potential solution.

Other key topics that popped up when exploring the future of fire protection included automatic testing of sprinkler systems and dry & wet risers. The possibility of improving corrosion resistance through the use of polymer-enhanced pipe was also considered. A number of possible new applications were discussed, such as the development of specialist sprinkler systems for maritime vehicle carriers.

Sharing our thoughts

Want to know what we think about the state of fire protection here in the UK? Or our thoughts about the future of sprinkler systems? Keep an eye on our blog for all the latest industry insights.