Automatic fire sprinklers can help UK drought crisis

Published:  17 February, 2012

The Business Sprinkler Alliance (“BSA”) is calling on UK businesses to install automatic fire sprinklers as an active measure to save billions of litres of water every year, in advance of the water crisis talks being held by environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, on Monday, 20th February with utility companies, environmental NGOs and farming groups to discuss how to mitigate the impact of persistent dry conditions.

The call to action is the result of shock findings by international assessment group, Bureau Veritas, in the report, entitled “Assessing The Role For Fire Sprinklers”, that reveal simply by installing fire sprinklers in commercial and industrial buildings, England and Wales could save over 9 billion litres of water every year  – the equivalent to five times the UK’s entire annual water bottle consumption[1].

The reality is that sprinkler systems stop or control fires in advance of the FRS arriving and often use only 0.2 per cent of the water used to extinguish a fire in a building that has no sprinklers.

During warmer weather, the increasing number and severity of fires are likely to further compound the problems that droughts present.  This could create a ripple effect on the UK’s economy and see losses rocket to millions of pounds whilst placing significant extra pressure on the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services[2].

“The science is clear: the simple fire sprinkler can dramatically cut water usage and carbon emissions,” says Iain Cox, chairman of the Business Sprinkler Alliance.

 “For mitigation and adaptation measures to be effective in environments with greater sensitivity to climate change risks, how we limit water usage requires coordinated and collaborative action by everyone. Simple, true but not obvious – fire sprinklers are a good way of saving water as well as lives and businesses,” continued Mr Cox.

Other key findings from the report include:

Fire sprinklers save lives and jobs, as well as reduce the amount of water used to extinguish business fires by over 2,000 times

When a fire breaks out, commercial buildings fitted with sprinklers emit 22 per cent less carbon dioxide than those without

There is a clear net benefit to installing sprinkler systems in all buildings over 5,000m2

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

The report’s findings released last year were welcomed by politicians and industry experts. 

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 sprinkles 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 at <> 

  • Operation Florian

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