Nine billion litres of water wasted fighting fires in UK businesses, reveals new report

Published:  21 July, 2011

The installation of fire protection sprinklers in commercial and industrial buildings would save England and Wales the equivalent of five times’ the entire annual bottled-water consumption for the UK.


That is the finding of research carried out by Bureau Veritas, which looked into the environmental impact of the 360-plus commercial fires that break out in the UK each year.

The report, titled “Assessing The Role For Fire Sprinklers”, discovered that installing fire sprinklers would save lives and jobs, and would also drastically cut the 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by commercial fires – as well as reduce the amount of water used to extinguish them by over 2000 times.

The research, the first of its kind, has been welcomed by politicians and industry experts.  Iain Cox, chairman of the newly-formed Business Sprinkler Alliance said it proved the environmental necessity for greater use of sprinkler systems. “The science is clear: the simple fire sprinkler can dramatically cut carbon emissions and water usage,” says Mr Cox, who is also the chief fire officer for the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue service.  “As the recent M1 fire and last year’s factory fire in Livingston showed, fire losses are felt right across the economy.  They cost the UK £3.4 million every day, they also cost lives and now we have the proof that they cause terrible environmental damage.”


Other key findings

  • When a fire breaks outs, commercial buildings fitted with sprinklers emit 22 per cent less carbon dioxide than those without
  • Buildings fitted with sprinklers often use only 0.2 per cent of the water used to extinguish a fire in a building that has no sprinklers
  • There is a clear net carbon benefit to installing sprinkler systems in all buildings over 5,000m2
  • Commercial fires often have hugely damaging environmental effects on local communities including air pollution, road closures, job losses, transport disruption and the evacuation of schools and residential areas to prevent health problems
  • Sprinkler pump pipework should be designed to recycle water during testing to ensure water conservation
  • Air pollution from commercial and industrial fires is rarely recorded. This is a major oversight that needs to be addressed
  • Fire sprinklers have a massively important role to play in active fire prevention.


Jim Marshall, Policy and Business Adviser at Water UK said that while protection of life needs to be the priority, using less water and carbon should be encouraged.  “Fire sprinklers can offer both of these priorities.  We need to be aware of the limited water resources that are available and where possible, reduce our impact on the water environment.”

Download the full report here or upload a pdf below.

File: Sprinklers report (2176k)
  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

Solberg – Revolutionizing Firefighting Foam Technology

Solberg is the one-stop resource for firefighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware. With our unique offering of environmentally sustainable fluorosurfactant and fluoropolymer-free foam concentrates, and traditional firefighting foam concentrates, Solberg leads the industry in firefighting foam innovation.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

Fomtec – The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden. Helsingborg is a good location both for production and shipment by road, air and sea.

Lehavot Production and Protection Ltd - the ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection & suppression automatic systems. Our solutions are based on cutting-edge R&D, such as the revolutionary Delta pneumatic-electronic linear fire & heat detector, and address many sectors including public transportation, military, mining, industrial kitchens, etc. We are ISO 9000 quality compliant and our cost-effective, environment-friendly products meet all relevant standards.

Spectrex Inc. – Optical Flame and Open Path Gas Detectors

Spectrex Inc. is a world leader in optical flame and combustible gas detection, with over 30 years experience in providing solution for the protection of high-risk onshore and offshore oil & gas, chemical and petrochemical sites, including protection of storage tanks, filling operations, aircraft hangars, atria and many other areas where hydrocarbons fires are a concern.

Holmatro - Mastering Power

Holmatro Rescue Equipment develops, manufactures, sells and services high-pressure hydraulic, pneumatic and mechanical rescue equipment. With a comprehensive dealer network on all continents, manufacturing plants in the Netherlands (head office) and USA, and sales offices in China and UK, we supply our products and services to fire and rescue organizations all over the world.

Dr Sthamer - Hamburg: foam fights fire

Dr Sthamer – Hamburg, has been developing and manufacturing state-of-the art firefighting foams since the 1920’s. Having been founded in 1886 by Dr Richard Sthamer, we are still proudly owned and managed by the Sthamer family. Our base is still at the original site where we started in, on the banks of the Bille River in Hamburg Germany.

Suppliers Database

Search either by product or company name: