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Fire Sprinklers

Sprinklers. Ready when you're not!

Protect what you value most

Fire destroys everything in its path, that includes you, your family, your home, your business, your school, your community.  Fire does not discriminate, you may have less than 5 minutes to escape.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service strongly encourages the fitting of fire sprinklers in all types of buildings at the design stage, the fitting of sprinklers can often lead to compensations being given in other areas of fire safety design such as a requirement for fire doors, insurance companies will also give reductions on premiums giving year on year savings which can often pay for the sprinkler installation within several years.

  • Don't leave it too late to save what you value most!
  • You never know when or where a fire will start
  • What if you could have a firefighter in every room ready to deal with a fire the minute it starts!  That is exactly what sprinklers are, firefighters!

Every year there are over 32,500 fires in businesses and commercial premises, a high proportion of serious fires start in commercial kitchens often totally destroying the building.

The costs of not having sprinklers can include the financial costs for rebuilding the premises, replacing damaged stock, loss of revenue and regular customers while business closed and paying insurance companies higher premiums. 

Download our guide - Sprinklers. Ready when you're not!

Use of Sprinklers

The photos below display the stages of a sprinkler being set off

In Commercial Premises

Photo of a Sprinkler - Phase 1 The cost of fire to business and the community is estimated at £7bn per year, 60% of businesses that have a fire never trade again, fire damage in premises covered by sprinklers is 90% less than non sprinkler protected premises.

In historic or listed buildings

Photo of sprinkler being set off where glass element is broken - Phase 2Fire threatens all buildings and its effects can be disastrous. In the case of historic buildings, the loss of property that forms part of a cultural resource is finite, irreplaceable and whose architectural and historical integrity can be destroyed forever.

In houses in multiple occupation

Photo of sprinkler starting to release water - Phase 3Around 500 lives are lost each year to fire. The majority of these are likely to happen in rented accommodation and in particular Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

In domestic premises

Photo of a sprinkler releasing water to extinguish a fire - Phase 4Residential fire sprinklers are small. In fact, they fit in so well that you have to point them out for people to notice them. Average sized rooms may only need one sprinkler.  They can be installed in ceilings or high on a wall and can be attached to the same water supply that feeds your home’s plumbing fixtures.  More information on residential fire sprinklers

The Facts


Sprinklers are designed to save lives, but because they control fires so quickly they also significantly reduce property damage.

Fire damage

Sprinkler systems can suppress a fire to prevent the dangerous escalation and reduce fire damage before the arrival of the Fire and Rescue Service.

They cause water damage?

Sprinkler heads operate independently and only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate.  Sprinklers can deliver up to 60 litres per minute, the Fire Service can use upto 1000 litres per minute from each hose when firefighting.

The risk of a false sprinkler head activation?

A Sprinkler discharge due to manufacturing defect is very unlikely at around 1 in 16 million, you have a better chance of winning the national lottery jackpot.

Are sprinkler heads?

Modern heads lie flush with the ceiling, beneath a barely visible cover plate, coloured to blend in with surrounding décor.

How cost effective are they?

Installed during new construction, sprinklers cost just 1% to 1.5% of the total build cost and residential sprinklers may be used as a compensatory feature in the absence of more traditional fire safety measures.

Case Studies

A Cornish Success

For some years Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service has actively promoted the use of Sprinklers in both domestic and commercial buildings.

Whilst sprinklers do not stop a fire from occurring they can control the development and subsequent size of a fire thus increasing the tenability for persons trying to escape.

Sprinklers are life safety systems that on occasion can be installed as a compensatory measure where certain fire safety measures are not possible due to the design or layout of the property.

In January 2008 Local Authority Building Control at Liskeard received detailed plans for the conversion of offices on the first and second floor to flats.  In consultation with a Fire Safety Officer the plans were turned down due to concerns over the means of escape in case of fire and a site visit was requested to discuss the scheme with all parties.

In February 2008 a site meeting was held between Building Control and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service to discuss the scheme with the applicant and it was agreed to fit domestic sprinklers as a life safety measure to contain a developing fire and protect occupants.

Sprinklers restrict firespread in flat fireOn Thursday 27 June 2013 crews from Liskeard Community Fire Station responded to an incident at 12-16 Fore Street, Liskeard.  On arrival crews were made aware of a fire in a flat and that a neighbour had entered the flat and rescued the occupier.  Crews quickly entered the flat and extinguishing a small smouldering fire which had been contained to a sofa in the lounge area.

The Incident Commander stated without doubt the activation of the sprinkler head in the room of origin controlled the development of this fire, maintaining survivable conditions and protecting the life of this individual.  The action of the neighbour combined with the sprinkler activation has saved life today.”The crews noted that a domestic sprinkler head in the lounge had activated.

Historic or Listed Buildings

Fire threatens all buildings and its effects can be disastrous.  In the case of historic buildings, the loss of property that forms part of a cultural resource is finite, irreplaceable and whose architectural and historical integrity can be destroyed forever.  Traditionally fire protection of historic buildings has been largely based on structural fire protection, for example:

  • Fire resisting walls, floors and ceilings
  • Fire doors (with self closing devices)

Alternative protection may be achieved by adopting a fire engineering approach.  This could see the reduction of traditional protection.  An example of this approach is a Sprinkler system.  Sprinklers provide an efficient, reliable and economic protection system.

Sprinkler heads are intrusive? Modern heads lie flush with the ceiling, beneath a barely visible cover plate, coloured to blend in with surrounding décor

Partial systems may be used to cover higher risk areas of the building.  Pre-action sprinkler systems remain dry until both smoke detection and sprinkler head are activated, virtually eliminating the chance of accidental discharge of water. In all historic buildings a fire risk assessment should carried out with prevention being the primary consideration.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Around 500 lives are lost each year to fire.  The majority of these are likely to happen in rented accommodation and in particular Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).  A fire risk assessment should be carried out for all HMOs and prevention should be the primary consideration.  Residential fire sprinklers are designed to save lives, but because they control fires so quickly they also reduce property damage significantly.

A suitably certificated residential sprinkler system, could allow design freedoms to the property, such as:

  • Doors of sound construction (fire doors not required)
  • Grade D Category LD2 fire alarm system (mains interlinked detectors with battery back up)
  • Floors, walls and ceilings of sound construction (no requirement for over boarding of floors)
  • Basement - one 30 minute fire door or 2 doors of sound construction
  • No lobby protection
  • No fire extinguishers

Given the design freedoms and a typical sprinkler installation cost of £2500, a sprinkler system could be an innovative and cost effective solution to all your fire safety needs.

Cornwall Council installs sprinklers in all new build domestic properties from 2018

Cornwall Councillors have signalled their desire to lead by example in keeping residents safe from house fires by agreeing to install sprinklers in all homes the Council builds and commissions in the future.

During a full Council meeting which took place on 22 May, Councillors voted to approve a motion brought by Councillor Neil Burden, Cornwall Councillor for Stokeclimsland.

As a result sprinklers will be instaled across all future Housing Development Programme (HDP) schemes at a cost of around £1.8million. As announced, the HDP will see the Council invest up to £170million in directly building 1,000 new homes on sites across Cornwall. The developments will be a mix of homes for private market and 50% available for private market rental.

Interim Chief Fire Officer Mark Hewitt is delighted with the approval. "We are absolutely delighted with the progress made working with Cornwall Council and the unanimous decision made at full council in support of fitting domestic sprinklers in Cornwall Councils new housing builds and developments. This demonstrates strong ambition and innovation in 'Working together to make Cornwall safer'."

Group Manager for Protection at Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety Service Justin Sharp said: "Those of us at Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety Service are thrilled with the vote, after the long hard work and continued effort of all involved since 2009. Thanks go to our Portfolio Holders Sue James, Edwina Hannaford, Councillor Burden and Geoff Brown for their continued support. We would also like to acknowledge the National Fire Sprinkler Network."

Further Information

British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (bafsa)

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association is the UK's trade association for the fire sprinkler industry.

The association's members install more than 85% of the sprinkler and watermist installations in the UK and include a significant majority of third-party certified sprinkler installers as well as manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, insurers, the fire and rescue services and others with an interest in the field.

Residential Sprinkler Association

  • Mill House, Mill Lane, Padworth, Nr Reading, Berks, RG7 4JX
  • Tel 0118 971 2322

National Fire Chief's Council

  • A Guide to Automatic water Suppression Systems (AWSS) and their practical application

Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA)

  • The British Sprinkler Alliance are a coalition aimed to raise awareness of automatic fire sprinklers in commercial properties.  The coalition was founded by CFOA, the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN), the European Fire Sprinkler Network (EFSN), the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) and FM Global.