Development and construction

Fires have a devastating effect on businesses.  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.  These fires have economic, social and environmental costs for the country, as well as 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.

But all too often the issue of fire protection is only raised late in the build programme when there is a problem satisfying some part of the Approved Document B requirements to meet the Building Regulations[1].  At this stage the building control officer, or approved inspector, can suggest a sprinkler system would solve the problem.

Developers and the construction industry need to consider the installation of sprinklers at the start of a new project.  Why?  Because by doing so, they can gain a significant return on investment.  Sprinklers allow a developer to:

  • Enhance the project design with more open space
  • Increase the design density of the overall development
  • Reduce building costs due to a reduction in passive fire protection elements and ratings
  • Increase revenue and profit due to a greater number of units developed
  • Increase the sustainability credentials of the building
  • Make the project more marketable as it offers a unique selling point to the customer
  • Reduce the cost of the sprinkler systems themselves if considered early
  • Allow the units to be more insurable with premium reductions in most cases.

Sprinklers are very important to the environmental agenda and for corporate social responsibility actions.  Their contribution to fire protection allows fire damage to be mitigated quickly, thereby limiting economic loss and business disruption. In a time when both private and public sector clients are demanding ‘green’ buildings, this is a serious consideration to remain competitive in the market.  The destruction of a building by fire will many times outweigh any ‘green’ savings made in the building’s lifetime.

[1] In Scotland, the Technical Handbooks of Scottish Building Standards