Should sprinklers be compulsory in all new homes?

Published:  10 February, 2010

The Welsh Assembly has voted in favour of making sprinklers mandatory for all new homes in Wales, but the Passive Fire Protection Federation believes this may cause problems, writes Chairman David Sugden.

Dear Editor,

The Welsh Assembly has voted in favour of making sprinklers mandatory for all new homes in Wales (see here). That must be a good idea! Or is it?  Such a ruling will have a major economic impact on house builders at a time when the industry is facing serious problems. Not enough houses are being built as it is, without extra costs up front for the developer. Of course saving lives is more important than saving money but we have to be realistic. Imposing this law may cause more problems than it solves.

Installing sprinklers is a good idea in principle but that isn’t the end of the story – they have to be maintained, which costs time and money.  As it is many people (maybe the majority?) don’t maintain their smoke alarms, so is it likely they will maintain the sprinkler system? And, more importantly, will having sprinklers make householders complacent about other fire protection measures?

Not many people have heard of passive fire protection but almost everyone already benefits from it in their home. In most properties it is built in - walls, doors and windows which can stop the rapid spread of fire and allow time to escape. The only maintenance issues involve making sure that these are properly restored after alterations, sealing gaps after new pipes or cables have been run, and remembering to close the door when leaving the room.

The point is that fire protection is not about any one element. All measures must be considered as a whole. Active measures such as sprinklers and smoke alarms work alongside built in protection. No law should be passed nor Government statement issued on fire protection unless these measures are considered as a whole.

Yours sincerely


David Sugden

Chairman, Passive Fire Protection Federation

Kingsley House

Ganders Business Park




GU35 9LU

United Kingdom

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

XVR Simulation Software, training software for safety and security

XVR is virtual reality training software for the training, education and assessment of incident response professionals – fire & rescue, police ambulance and civil defence. XVR is used by schools and training centres, emergency services, industrial companies and critical infrastructure owners in 23 countries worldwide.

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.

DuPont™ Nomex®; Proven heat stress protection for firefighters

DuPont is the inventor and the world’s largest producer of high-performance materials and solutions with leading world brands such as DuPont™ Nomex®, Kevlar®, Teflon® and Tyvek®, providing personal protection, be it thermal, mechanical or chemical, to over 90 countries.

argus: experts in thermal imaging

argus® are a division of e2v Technologies Ltd. Since the 1940’s e2v have developed imaging solutions for use in some of the World’s most exciting ventures, from monitoring environmental changes on Earth to helping NASA’s Curiosity Rover detect the elements, which could support life on Mars.

Solberg – the new standard in firefighting foam

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.

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:




IFP Chinese NFPA NFPA First Class Firefighter Resource