One of the misconceptions surrounding sprinklers is that they add significant costs. This needs to be challenged in terms of the overall impact that they can have on build costs, design freedoms and fire resilience over the life of a building.
On average, for an industrial building, the cost has been estimated to be between £33 per square metre and £35 per square metre*. This is balanced against the typical industrial/commercial building construction cost, which depends on specification, that is between £750 and £1,500 per square metre. The key here to minimise costs, sprinklers should be designed into building plans.
A recent independent report by the WSP, The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design, looks at the different building types and design options and provides contractors, developers, architects and investors with useful and helpful information on the commercial and design impacts of automatic sprinklers. The document outlines in detail how automatic sprinklers can add value to building design.
Sprinkler systems like most active building elements need maintenance. This means simple weekly and monthly checks of pumps (where fitted), pressure gauges and valve settings that can be carried out by a trained employee. On top of this would be a regular annual service.
The benefits of a sprinkler system extend to protection from devastating fire events. A recent BRE Global study considered all the factors relating to the potential for fire including insurance costs, the upfront sprinkler installation cost and maintenance cost over a 45 year lifetime of a warehouse building larger than 2000m2. The study concluded that the whole life costs will on average be 3.5 times lower in warehouses which have sprinkler systems installed.
These figures are driven by lower incidents of fire, and therefore less fire damage, and lower insurance premiums over the life of the building. Insurers are so confident of the value of sprinklers that they normally allow significant fire premium rate discounts for protected properties.
*BRE Appendix G,G1, Page 63