Sprinkler system saves life and property


This week (18 – 24 May) is national sprinkler awareness week. Recently we had an incident where the sprinkler system saved both life and property at Winchester Court, Sherwood.

Crews from Stockhill and Arnold fire stations attended Winchester Court, Chestnut Walk, Sherwood following reports of a flat fire on the ninth floor. 

Upon arrival one resident had self-rescued thanks to the early warning and activation of the buildings sprinkler and alarm system. 

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) have worked collaboratively with Nottingham City Homes (NCH) by providing advice and guidance on the retro fitting of the sprinkler systems since the Grenfell Tower fire in June, 2017. Following this tragic incident, sprinklers have now been retro fitted in all areas of Winchester Court and are being fitted in all Nottingham City Homes’ high-rise blocks to ensure the safety of their residents from fire.   

The sprinklers at Winchester Court activated, extinguishing the fire which is believed to have been caused by a portable heater being positioned too close to furnishings. Swift action was taken by the crews to provide emergency first aid to the resident and to access the stop valve and isolate the supply of water to further reduce damage within the property. Due to the early extinguishing of the fire there was minimum damage to the property which was limited to the room where the fire started. 

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service have also been looking closely at data which shows that suppression systems minimise the size of a fire before it spreads, premises with them present had 99.5% less damage compared to those without a system installed.

Where sprinklers were installed we found the damage to the premises never exceeded 50 sq/m; whereas premises without sprinklers, in some cases, exceeded 10,000 sq/m.

Business Education Advocate, Iona Loffman said: “Once again, this incident provides evidence to prove that “sprinklers save lives”. Due to the hard work by Nottingham City Homes and Nottingham City Council in retro fitting sprinkler systems within all of their high-rise blocks, another life has been saved and another fire extinguished, reducing building damage and cost to Nottingham City Homes and the public purse. NFRS continue to support the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) position on sprinklers which save lives, reduce injury and protect firefighters, whilst limiting damage to property and the environment caused by fire. 

“This is also an important reminder to be extremely careful when using portable heaters, particularly during the winter months. Remember to ventilate the room when the heater is being used, do not air or dry clothes over a heater and try not to place a heater too close to furniture, bedding or curtains.

“In the last 5 years, the Service have had no casualties or fatalities where suppression systems were present, which suggests having a system installed can not only save lives but can reduce the size of the fire to assist escape.” 

Nottingham City Homes’ Interim Head of Health and Safety, Andrew Bruynseels, said, “This incident proves once again that sprinklers save lives, and our residents can rest assured that their safety is our number one priority as we near completion of our sprinkler install programme at all the high rises we manage across the city.” 

At NFRS, we have recently updated our position statement on installation of suppression systems in accordance with NFCC guidance. For further information on sprinklers and why they save lives, please see the statement here: https://www.notts-fire.gov.uk/business-safety/sprinkler-statement

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