Fires in business premises are more frequent than you might think. Recent research has shown that there are 621 fires in warehouses each year. This means that one in five warehouses in England and Wales will have a fire requiring the attendance of firefighters over the course of its lifetime. Fires in manufacturing premises are more likely than those in warehouses. All these fires have economic, social and environmental costs for UK businesses.
The most successful and dependable way to protect your property from fire is to fit a sprinkler system. It provides automatic detection, alarm and fire fighting capability at all hours of the day and night, 365 days of the year.
As well as saving lives, sprinklers help with business continuity by minimising disruption and allowing businesses to get back to normal as soon as possible. Downtime from fires in sprinklered premises is typically measured in hours or days while unsprinklered plants can be down for months, even years. There is a compelling case to be made for sprinklers in any commercial premises on the basis of loss of production or interruption to business affecting ongoing productivity. But who is responsible for fire safety systems within them? Sometimes the owner of the building is the responsible entity, sometimes the occupier and sometimes both own specific elements of responsibility.
For owners, it makes commercial sense to install a sprinkler system to allow greater flexibility in how a company uses its building, enabling it to be used for a different purpose to its original design specification. Sprinklers can increase the market value of properties, making them more ‘lettable’, particularly if they contain ‘green’ construction, like solar panels, energy efficiency equipment or other forms of clean technology energy measures.
For occupiers, fire loss is more than just monetary. It causes business interruption, cash-flow volatility, life safety and loss of reputation. The commercial implications are huge; they can directly impact production downtime in today’s challenging competitive environment.
Commercial and industrial fire losses are on the rise. Recent research from BRE Global shows that insurance is not enough to fully protect companies from the long-term impacts of fire. Uninsured risks, such as business interruption and damaged supplier relationships can cause lasting harm to businesses.
But these losses are avoidable. Businesses need to better understand the importance of physical resilience and how best to protect their employees, their business and the environment against the devastating impacts resulting from a blaze.
Any owner or occupier is required to maintain their building in a fire-safe condition. A sprinkler system assists in meeting that requirement, it is cost effective to install and often allows the building to be used more flexibly – as demanded by today’s fast moving logistics frameworks. Losses due to fire are significantly reduced, with fewer businesses having to cease, relocate or disrupt their operations.