BAFS focus May 2021

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… the voice of the automatic water-based fire suppression industry

JUNE 2021

HM Government lets teachers, pupils, parents and Firefighters down with proposed BB100 for Schools in England… Education will suffer!


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From the Chairman Sprinklers and innovative school design What could be more beneficial to the design of a school than the inclusion of automatic fire sprinklers at the design stage asks Keith MacGillivray Leasehold flats and sprinklers Ian Gough considers key points regarding the matter of leasehold flats and the compulsory installation of fire sprinklers The devil is in the detail Ritchie O’Connell recalls an experience which would have made Wallace & Gromit proud How is Scotland improving fire safety? The safety of people in the built environment appears to be a priority for the Scottish government reflects Danny Doherty Standards surprise One of the least unforeseen consequences of the pandemic was the torrent of new fire safety standards and regulations explains Stewart Kidd What a difference a year makes The NFCC welcomes the current reform of building safety but, writes Gavin Tomlinson, potential conflict between sustainability, improved building standards and fire safety must be avoided. Removing illegal sprinklers from online platforms EFSN, BAFSA and IFSA have taken up the challenge to get untried, untested and unapproved products removed from online products reports Alan Brinson. Where there is smoke Tom Roche argues that our current regulatory thinking does not make sense from a regulatory perspective. A call to action The newest member of the BAFSA Team, Nick Coleshill, looks at his role of Sprinkler Ambassador. Case Study : Care Home, Didcot – offering enhanced protection to vulnerable residents From the sprinkler head A round up of news from BAFSA and its members Technical queries & resolutions In this continuing series we focus on questions which have come through BAFSA on sprinkler systems in schools, warehouses and care homes

Front cover image courtesy of Derbyshire FRS BAFSA focus is the biannual magazine of the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association. It is the only UK publication which has automatic fire sprinklers at its core with current news, features and opinions along with case studies and product updates.

To secure places on any of the above courses, please contact Keith MacGillivray:

BAFSA fcus is published by BAFSA, Unit 12, Kildean Business & Enterprise Hub, 146 Drip Road, Stirling FK8 1RW E W ISBN – 978-0-9571838-9-6 Disclaimer : The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association Ltd and/or its Council, directors, officers or employees are in no way responsible or legally liable for any error or anomalies made within the editorial by our authors. Reprints of articles are available on request. Designed by RIASCA


From the Chairman ... Dear Members Welcome to the latest edition of Focus. Fifteen months ago, construction across the UK and Ireland was halted due to the Covid 19 virus, many employees were furloughed for a considerable period of time and many major projects were halted until such time as safe working processes were approved. While the majority of sprinkler installers have now been back at work for a considerable length of time, we still see the knock-on effects of the pandemic and in some areas localised lockdowns continue. In the main our industry has made a good recovery and order books are beginning to fill up for 2022/2023. However, the construction industry worldwide now seems to be facing a shortage of materials together with price rises for scarce materials. In a statement from the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability Working Group, Co-Chairs John Newcomb and Peter Caplehorn said: “Activity in the UK construction sector, already high at the start of the year, has been very robust and picked up sharply from the beginning of March. New housing and repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI), together with infrastructure, have led the way. We now also see increasingly strong performance in the commercial and industrial sub-sectors, applying further strain on the supply chain. Back in March we warned that product availability would worsen before it improved. This is proving to be the case; projections indicate that strong demand will continue over the next six months. This mirrors similar projections worldwide, as major economies such as China, the US and the EU surge following lockdowns. In fact, most of the shortages of products and raw materials impacting the market have been driven by both global and domestic supply and demand factors. Previously reported issues relating to timber, steel, pitched roofing, plastics and paints/coatings continue. Growing areas of concern, however, include certain electronic components and bagged cement. Earlier this month British Steel advised that it had temporarily stopped taking orders

for structural steel sections, though other products were unaffected. We understand this is likely to be a short-term interruption to work through a backlog of orders. Production and related operations continue at full capacity, but the global demand for steel remains extremely high. In addition to availability and resulting longer lead times, there is an impact on prices. The Office for National Statistics projects a rise of 7-8% in material prices, with increases for certain materials, such as timber, expected to more than double during the course of the year.” Hopefully these price increases will be short-lived and the pricing for new projects will become more predictable for the future. BAFSA continues to be in good health and the BAFSA Team have continued to work from home throughout the pandemic. The enforced situation has given us an opportunity to look at how we deliver some of our Membership activities. Over the period we have developed webinars which have been well attended both by Members and the public, each webinar has been accompanied by a video animation which are available on our website for your use. For the last nine months we have provided online training courses both for design and for installation, theses have proved to be very successful, with all the design courses being oversubscribed and with more than 150 registering for the EWR L2 online course since last September. We have also provided webinars on PI Insurance and Research Tax Credits; the latter has resulted in a number of our Members receiving substantial refunds. The Tax Credits webinar will be repeated in July. I am pleased to say that we have retained all our Members throughout the Covid Pandemic and have increased our Membership by fifteen in the last few months. We have received no complaints about any of our members throughout the last twelve months. However we do continue to receive complaints about non-third-party accredited installers. Enquiries about sprinkler installations and equipment are at their highest ever level, particularly technical enquiries from potential clients such as Council and Housing Associations.


JUNE 2021

The changes to the Building Regulations in Scotland, requiring sprinklers in Social Housing, Flats, Houses in Multiple Occupation and Student Halls of Residence have come as a result of continued lobbying by our Scottish Representatives and the incredible support of David Stewart MSP who brought forward a Private Members Bill to achieve this change of Regulation. Again, due to this change we have received a large number of enquiries and we have delivered ten webinars in conjunction with Scottish Government, Scottish Councils and others to ensure the message about Third Party Certified Installers reaches the right people. Sadly, the message from Government in England is not so positive regarding sprinklers, while they have reduced the height requirement for sprinklers in high rise blocks from 18 metres to 11 metres, they have also introduced a review of the need for sprinklers in schools. BAFSA along with our partner organisations will be responding to this review, I would be grateful if you could also consider responding individually to the review giving a clear message that sprinklers are required in schools to protect the school property portfolio in England to the same level as Scotland and Wales.


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Sprinklers and innovative school design K E I T H M ACG I L L I VR AY, C H I E F E XE C UT I VE , B A F S A

W H A T C O U L D B E more beneficial to the design of a school than the inclusion of automatic fire sprinklers at the design stage, this is already the case in Wales since 2014 and Scotland since 2010. How could this be beneficial to the design I hear you say? Firstly, and most importantly, the fire sprinklers would ensure that any fire was extinguished or controlled in the early stages and allow the escape of those in the building and secondly, prevent the fire from becoming a major loss as so many school fires in England do. 2 |

The sprinklers would allow all the pupils, teachers and staff to make their escape safely and would reduce the risk to Firefighters who are called to the fire. Secondly the sprinklers would protect the design and allow it to remain for many years to come so that teachers, pupils and the public are able to enjoy the inspiring learning and community spaces. Finally, sprinklers allow architects design freedoms that would not normally be available under the Building Standards. These include greater heights in larger meeting and

circulation areas, longer corridors without being broken up by doors, a greater mix of building occupancies such as community spaces and in the case of the Waid Academy in Anstruther, a Police Station and a library. Other recent school developments in Scotland have seen similar inclusive projects, such as Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, which includes a school, gym, swimming pool, library, sports hall and other shared community facilities. Recent Research by Zurich Insurance found that, when compared to 2.9 million non-


household properties, schools were also three times more likely to fall into the “high” fire risk category (58% vs 20%), as defined by the study. The predominant causes of fires in schools are arson, smoking, electrical and cooking, yet the majority of these fires could be controlled or extinguished by a sprinkler system. It is not just the damage to the building that is critical, it is the disruption to studies, the loss of teaching and study materials, the difficulty in finding alternative suitable accommodation and the loss of community facilities which are frequently included in school buildings. The designs of new schools in Scotland are testament to this, not only fire protected by sprinklers but also sustainable, Lindsey Mitchell (Architect Director) at BDP Glasgow Studio describes a recent design in Fife which like all new built schools in Scotland includes sprinklers. “In Waid Academy in Anstruther, we designed and delivered a great community school that includes a high school, police station, library and a community hub. We applied the same sustainable approach to design at The Waid and a recent report tracking energy use since it opened, demonstrates the building is working within the SFT LEIP targets, which were not considered at that time. In a time where there is a heightened need to take learning out of the classroom, the use of sustainable, educational buildings and landscape is vital for varied, creative teaching methods. A sustainable campus provides a positive legacy for local authorities and demonstrates their commitment to providing a sustainable community environment.” As well as allowing design freedom for greater open plan spaces in Waid Academy, the inclusion of automatic fire sprinklers make the school more sustainable in the long term. The decision to fit sprinklers into all new built schools in Scotland in 2010 was made against a background of increasing fire losses of school buildings across the country and an ambitious plan by the Government to build a sustainable school building portfolio. Architects are key to this building programme, with flexible multi use designs which are both inspirational and practical and do ensure that the structures meet the SFT LEIP standards together with being sustainable against fires and fire losses. It is not just the loss of the structure that makes it unsustainable following a fire, it is the amount of gases that are released into the atmosphere during a fire, together with the contaminated run off from the water used by the fire and rescue services and the cost of keeping fire appliances running and detaining Firefighters on site while damping down after a major fire, the rebuild cost and energy is only part of the equation. BAFSA believes sprinklers should be fitted in all new build schools in England and Northern Ireland and supports the need for sprinklers to be mandatory in the Review of BB100 (Design Guide for Fire Safety in Schools).

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Leasehold flats and sprinklers IAN GOUGH, SENIOR TECHNICAL ADVISOR, BAFSA

A T O P I C A L E N Q U I R Y to BAFSA sought advice regarding the matter of leasehold flats and the compulsory installation of fire sprinklers. With the recent lowering of the height threshold for sprinklers in new flats (as per Building Regulations’ guidance) to just 11 metres, coupled with the growing desire post Grenfell to retrofit sprinklers, this is a matter previously queried and will no doubt be raised again. It might therefore be useful to consider some key points. 4 |

Questions re extending upwards in existing residential building

The specific enquiry came from a fire safety consultant and registered fire risk assessor. It was related to alterations to an existing, albeit relatively new, four storey block of flats in London where the owner of the building was seeking to add two extra floors. Importantly this would result in the top floor being 14.07 metres high.

Plans of the two new floors were duly prepared in the summer of 2020 when the height threshold then imposed was 30 metres from the ground to the topmost floor; sprinkler protection was therefore not considered necessary. However, it appears that an approach for Building Regulations’ consent was not made until December last year whereupon the building inspector raised the matter of full sprinkler protection to be provided throughout the building and in


accordance with the changes to Approved Document B, introduced only a few days earlier. In practical terms, given adequate water supply arrangements, for the new flats this should not pose too much difficulty but as the existing properties are all privately leased flats, understandably, this will be far from easy to achieve and the questions arising were: how might this requirement for sprinklers affect leasehold flats with respect to access to properties and secondly who pays?

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Building Regulations (England)

The Government issued changes to fire safety guidance contained within Building Regulations’ Approved Document B Volume 1 (Dwellings) and Volume 2 (Buildings Other than Dwellings) in May last year and these took effect on 26th November 2020. Importantly, the relevant key changes were in relation to blocks of flats where the topmost floor is over 11 metres high and that these must now be built with sprinkler protection throughout the building. However, as would be expected, these amendments do not apply in any case where a building notice or an initial notice has been given to, or full plans deposited with, a local authority and either the building work to which it relates has: (a) started before that day; or (b) is started before 29th January 2021. In the case under consideration, it is not exactly clear if formal approval had been sought under the Building Regulations and it seems more likely that only informal consultation had so far taken place; nevertheless, clearly notice of carrying out the work had not been given prior to 26th November 2020. With this in mind, the application was rightly assessed by building control having regard to the new Approved Document B Volume 1, and it seems perfectly proper therefore that the building control authority would expect to see sprinklers being provided throughout the building and not simply provided within any new construction. Importantly, it should be emphasised here that in the case of extensions, powers granted under the Building Act can only apply to the new building work and are severely curtailed in relation to those parts of a building not undergoing change (and which were already, in effect, approved). In this case therefore, if the applicant for building consent cannot meet the requirements ‘voluntarily’ by persuading all the leaseholders in the floors below to accept sprinklers in their flats, the application should be rejected in its entirety. Certainly, there are no powers under the Building Act or Building Regulations to enter these properties and insist on sprinklers being fitted.

Access to leaseholders’ flats

Access into people’s property is, quite rightly, a highly sensitive subject and there is a significant amount of law the exists to protect the rights of leaseholders and tenants etc. from unwanted intrusion. But in short, the freeholder or landlord leases the property to the leaseholder. The leaseholder typically lives in the property and has a right to use it in accordance with the terms (known as clauses or lease covenants) set out in the lease and if these rules are broken, there can be a risk of a leaseholder losing their property. The lease contract therefore sets out the terms of the lease which include the rights and obligations of the leaseholder and the freeholder. Leases can be long documents as they attempt to cover the rights and responsibilities of the freeholder and the leaseholder. The lease will normally contain the names of the original leaseholder and freeholder and its terms will apply to all future leaseholders and freeholders of the property. Once the contract has been entered into, the terms can usually only be changed by formal agreement between both parties. Of course, it is more than likely that few if any leases in blocks of flats ever considered the matter of retrofitting fire sprinklers. Therefore, if leaseholders cannot be persuaded to accept them, impasse is quickly reached. Moreover, unlike other buildings, the living accommodation in blocks of flats falls outside of the ambit of the Regulatory Reform

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(Fire Safety) Order 2005 and therefore even the fire and rescue authority would be on very shaky ground should they take it upon themselves to enter such premises and serve any notice requiring sprinklers.

Legal challenges

Interestingly however, there are two significant cases which touch on the topics of sprinklers and also access to leaseholders’ property that is well worth noting. Following the fire at Grenfell in 2017, the London Borough of Wandsworth (LBW) took the decision to retrofit sprinklers in blocks of more than 10 storeys within the borough. They made an application to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to make sure that they had the authority to carry out and charge for the suggested works in the leasehold properties. The First Tier Tribunal

(Property Chamber) is administered by HM Courts & Tribunals Service and handles applications, appeals and references relating to disputes over property and land. The application was to seek a ruling that: 1. they (LBW) are entitled to enter the leasehold flats without the leaseholder’s consent and 2. to include the expenses of both fitting and maintaining the sprinkler systems as part of the service charge costs towards which the leaseholders will have to pay This application to the Tribunal affected approximately 2,500 leasehold properties. However, in December 2019 the application was struck out by the Tribunal and was not able to proceed further when it was decided that LBW were not entitled to ask for a blanket determination of leaseholder rights. The Tribunal said that if LBW wish to fit the sprinkler systems, then they must

consider each block of flats individually and if necessary, make an application to the Tribunal on a block-by-block basis. Due to LBW not taking the “necessity” of the installation of the sprinklers on a block-by-block basis into consideration, there was no reasonable prospect of them being able to show that the service charge costs were recoverable under the leases. It was pointed out that each block was constructed in a different way and arguments put forward by the leaseholders emphasised that sprinklers were not necessary for all the blocks and if the Tribunal were to make a decision it would be an abuse of process. Unfortunately, the Tribunal did not make a decision on the key points at issue, and these issues still remain unsolved for those wishing to make such improvements.

Dr Piechnik

The second case relates again to a landlord wishing to install sprinklers in an unsympathetic leaseholder’s flat. Curiously in this case, the County Court explored the leaseholder’s right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ when the landlord insists on access for fire safety works. This was a situation where a lease had been granted under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme (RTB) and the Council (Oxford City) wanted to carry out major works which involved installing insulation and cladding, putting in a fire sprinkler system and ventilation units, replacing windows and other miscellaneous works.

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The lease contained provisions allowing for service charges, quiet enjoyment and the landlord’s covenant to maintain the building. Under the lease, the Council was allowed to enter the premises to repair any part of the building, provided notice was given. There were proceedings before the Tribunal which addressed the question as to whether the service charges for these major works were payable under the terms of the RTB leases. It was held that the majority of the charges were not recoverable as the leases did not allow for costs to be recovered in relation to improvements (as sprinklers had not previously been provided this was seen as a potential improvement). Dr Piechnik (the leaseholder) refused access to the contractors so the Council applied for an injunction to force Dr Piechnik to provide access. This resulted in an agreement where limited access was to be provided. This agreement had, however, been without prejudice to the parties’ respective rights and remedies. After the completion of the works, Dr Piechnik sought (amongst other things) an order for damages for breach of covenant, namely interference of his right of quiet enjoyment. It was initially held that, because a local authority could insist on access for these purposes, when the flat was let on a secure tenancy meant that there was an implied right of access in a RTB lease. However, the High Court allowed the appeal in part but held that a local authority landlord does not have an extended right of entry implied into such leases in order to carry out works which would avoid the risk of death or personal injury.

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Despite the increasing powers available under building and fire safety legislation it remains that authorities having jurisdiction cannot force leaseholders to have fire sprinklers installed in their properties. Building Regulations cannot be retrospective – even in the modern world where ‘risk assessment’ is generally the guiding principle. And In relation to the two legal challenges the key points are as follows: • Landlords cannot take a “blanket” approach when looking to carry out works, it is important to take into account whether or not the works are necessary and applicable in the circumstances. • Despite the implied clauses in RTB leases, the landlord does not have an extended right of entry implied into such leases in order to carry out works which would avoid the risk of death or personal injury. • Be aware that there is no “one-size fits all” ruling. In the Wandsworth decision, the key issues were not decided upon, and the decision in Peichnik is specific to RTB leases. It does not apply to private freeholders or housing association landlords. The answer to our enquiring fire consultant must therefore be that if the project is to proceed, the landlord may have to persuade his tenants to allow sprinklers to be fitted in their flats and, no doubt fund the installation out of his/her own pocket. The old adage of ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’, to a great extent, still remains true – even to leaseholders.

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The devil is in the detail RITCHIE O’CONNELL , WELSH CO - ORDINATOR, BAFSA

A R E C E N T C O N V E R S A T I O N with a client went along the lines “it’s just a window why does it have to be commissioned?” The ‘window’ in question was an automatically opening vent (AOV) in a corridor in a converted block of flats. The fire strategy had specified the size of the vent required to satisfy the Building Regulations, included a diagram showing how the aerodynamic free area should be measured, and a statement that the vent should be ‘designed, installed and commissioned to BS EN 12101-2:2003’. But rather than following the advice in the strategy the principal contractor had opted to provide a window to which they fitted an actuator arm in an arrangement which would have made Wallace & Grommit proud… “cracking smoke control eh lad?” On final inspection the building control officer had pointed out that the opening area

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of the vent was insufficient, cue the phone call which resulted in the conversation above. Whilst the above will come as no surprise to those involved in fire strategies it is far from uncommon, there is often a reluctance to provide the necessary fire safety measures both in new and existing buildings with the fire safety consultant or fire risk assessor being cast in the role of pantomime villain whose raison d’être is to cost the client money. Fire safety provisions, active and passive are required to do their job, manufacturers spend large sums of money in getting their products through the various approvals processes. To get approval/ certification for a product the testing regimes are rigorous and exacting. The nature of the application, the fixings, fastenings, and method of installation are specified, as is the fire load, the ceiling heights, temperature flux etc.

The end result is a specific approval for a product, in a scenario covered by the test regime, when installed in a prescribed manner. However, this information has not filtered down through the entire building industry, whilst there are some contractors who are highly diligent there are others, and not just small companies, who still treat fire safety as an afterthought or an unnecessary expense. This often results in fire safety provisions being considered too late in the programme of works, or being fitted in at the end of the job after snagging inspections have pointed out their absence. The works are often carried out by general labourers who are given, at best, vague direction, often despite detailed information being provided in the fire strategy. It is clear that to some people in the construction industry fire safety remains a burden and as a result it is addressed, by some, as a box ticking exercise.


“the fire safety consultant or fire risk assessor is often cast in the role of pantomime villain” A typical case in point being a fire stopping installation following the refurbishment of a building. I was asked to undertake a fire stopping survey, in agreeing the scope of the project I asked that the false ceilings be left open so that I could inspect the slab and wall/ceiling joints, and that all information provided by the installer be made available to me prior to the inspection. None of the information I requested was made available and when I arrived on site all of the false ceilings were in situ. During the inspection I noted that whatever the application in question, whether it be filling in a linear cavity at the head of a wall, fire stopping individual service penetrations, filling cable tray penetrations, or filling in around duct penetrations, the answer was always expanding Polyurethane (Pu) foam, some of which had apparently been applied by catapult! Whilst it wasn’t great fire stopping, it may have had some merit as an art installation. Pu foam manufacturers have, as have the manufacturers of other products, spent time and money on having their products tested and there is a range of applications for which the various brands of Pu foam are accredited. There are also specific application criteria which need to be followed. In this case the firestopping duties had been delegated to the fitout contractor who had asked their labourers to fire stop the areas concerned. It was apparent as soon as I started my inspection that the Pu foam had been used for applications well outside the scope of most Pu products. I noted the issues in my report and suggested that the ‘installers’ ( I am at times kind) be contacted to provide the approvals and methodology for the application of the product. Lo and behold the approvals arrived from the manufacturer, via the contractor, and none of the applications were covered, the manufacturer also expressed concern at some of the workmanship used in applying their product. The contractor now had to remove the Pu foam and fire stop again. During a protracted phone conversation I explained that it was vital that fire stopping was pre-planned, carried out by experienced installers to a written methodology, and the details of the products used, and installation method were recorded for future reference. The next day the same person sent me photographs of another fire stopping installation, (apparently this time carried out on bring your children to work day) with none of the aforementioned details and asked me if I would ’sign it off’ for the client. My reply is not suitable for publication, it was however heartfelt . These issues are not limited to fire stopping. I was recently commissioned to consider whether a proprietary water mist system would be sufficient to demonstrate a level of safety commensurate with ADB in an open plan three storey house with an unenclosed staircase. I was provided with a very professional looking set of drawings prepared by the water mist contractor. The drawings showed the location of heads and arcs of coverage and were accompanied by a lot of information regarding the system.

The system in question has been tested and does have approvals for specific applications, the ground floor of the house in which it was to be installed however was a double height space with galleries, the ceiling level was in 5.8m high, and the approvals were for spaces up to 3.5m high and could not therefore be used to underpin any firs safety solution. The householder had invested time and money into the project and had not sought to cut any corners. The prospective installer who I am sure would have done a good job of the actual installation was not aware of or simply did not understand the limitation of the approval. The end result was that the project had to be scrapped resulting in unnecessary expense and considerable disappointment for the householder, (not to mention wasted time and effort for yours truly). Many of the problems which are brought about by treating fire safety provision as an additional burden, or an irksome afterthought tacked on at the end of a job, could be avoided by the simple expedient of including them at the preplanning stage and using experienced and accredited specialists instead of relying on general contractors. Nietzsche was right (although he probably wasn’t actually talking about fire safety) ‘the devil is in the detail’ and trying to shoehorn fire safety measures in at the end of a project could work out much more expensive and time consuming than just doing it properly in the first place. So If your fire risk assessor or consultant points out issues with your fire safety provisions, please don’t shoot the messenger. Firstly you are better off knowing there is an issue than finding out when there is a fire and secondly, they (probably, I hope) didn’t cause the problem- they found it and that’s what they are supposed to do!

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Sprinklers in Schools Burnt out schools and classrooms cause major disruption to children’s education, with repairs leading to months or even years of upheaval. The DoE recognises that every school day missed is associated with a lower attainment outcome. School buildings also play host to community clubs and groups thus school fires have a devastating impact on entire communities which those schools serve, students, teachers, and families along with the environment. A fire in a school initially puts Firefighters lives at risk as they try to mitigate the damage to the property and invariably school fires are spectacular and require large numbers of firefighting resources and water supplies. In many cases where a school fire has occurred, the building is unusable for many months and sometimes years, there is then a need for temporary accommodation for the school staff and pupils. This can be well outside the area of its normal catchment area requiring transport for pupils to attend. There is also the loss of precious resources, much of which will have been built up over many years and in some cases irreplaceable together with the teachers and pupils own materials, which may be required for future assessments. Many schools have units dedicated to pupils with special needs both physical and mental, the requirements for these pupils are not easy to accommodate elsewhere both in terms of travel, special equipment and special access requirements. Imagine what if feels like to lose everything you have been striving for because a fire has destroyed your course work, your art, your pets, your memories… And then to discover that it could all have been protected if automatic fire sprinklers had been present. The confusion and emotional distress can be unfathomable for the most vulnerable in our communities.


Automatic fire sprinklers save the lives of both Firefighters and the public. Sprinklers in schools will control, or extinguish, a fire at source thus : • Allow our children to have an uninterrupted education • Reduce fire damage and hugely reduced repair costs • Protect essential resources and irreplaceable course work materials from total loss • Minimise the significant emotional, social and educational detriment to children • Avoid physical disruption and negative impact on well-being for students and communities Scotland Sprinklers mandatory in all new schools Wales Sprinklers required where grant funding is being provided for the investment in new school buildings or significant refurbishment England & Northern Ireland 2016 “The Building Regulations do not require the installation of fire sprinkler suppression systems in school buildings for life safety and therefore BB 100 no longer includes an expectation that most new school buildings will be fitted with them.”

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L AT E S T FA C T & F I G U R E S Not including incidents in empty or derelict schools, all were occupied



• Of the 4112 incidents 628 were deliberate. • 1381 of these incidents reported an evacuation with 295 indicating more than 20 persons present. • Only 95 of these incidents had sprinklers present … THINK OF THIS A N OT H E R WAY • There are approximately 24,000 schools in England. • The incident of school fires is in the range of 2% and • 380 incidents were not confined to the room of origin or the 1st item ignited… Where sprinklers were reported this number falls to 5 incidents. • 98 incidents have recorded the “fire damage extent” as greater than 50 sqm. • There were no incidents, where sprinklers are reported, with a “fire damage extent” greater than 50 sqm

AV E R A G E CO S T S • to install sprinklers - £45 per m2 • primary school rebuild - £4.1 million (£3,038 m2) • secondary school rebuild £14.8 million (£2,363 m2) • a fire claim - £78,531 … cost of disruption to child education and the effect on child health and welfare is incalculable



How is Scotland improving fire safety? DA N N Y D O H E RTY, S COT T I S H CO - O R D I N ATO R , B A FS A

I N J U N E 2 0 1 7 on the day after the Grenfell Tower fire, a Scottish government ministerial working group (MWG) on building and fire safety was set up to review regulatory frameworks and other relevant issues. The initial focus of the group was on high-rise domestic buildings, but it has also considered other buildings including housing, the NHS estate, schools and prisons. The MWG programme included: • A building standards review of compliance and enforcement • A building standards review of fire safety • A review of the fire safety regime and regulatory framework for high-rise domestic buildings • An inventory of high-rise domestic buildings in Scotland • A fire safety campaign for high-rise domestic properties • Gathering information on the presence of aluminium composite materials on highrise domestic buildings and those with sleeping accommodation

• Collecting information on the presence of external wall insulation systems. A review panel on fire safety building standards in Scotland established by the MWG brought together an experienced group of fire safety engineers and specialists, along with representatives of the major construction bodies in Scotland and the various regulators. It was supported by a small international group of fine safety regulators, who ensured that there was an appropriate degree of reflection and benchmarking after each meeting. Following the publication of the review panel’s report in 2018, ministers have taken steps to implement the recommendations for increasing safety in high-rise buildings, in particular residential premises. These recommendations included: introducing a better mechanism for verifying fire safety engineering on complex buildings; changes on guidance on external cladding, cavities, fire spread on external walls, and escape routes; and extending the requirement for automatic

fire suppression systems to additional building groups. This article details the different measures being taken.

External Wall Guidance

A draft Scottish advice note, Determining the fire risk posed by external wall systems in existing multi-storey residential buildings, was subject to a 3- month targeted consultation that ended on 25th October 2020, and the responses are currently under review. The note has been drafted to help building owners and managers and risk assessors determine fire risk, and also explains how more detailed wall appraisals by specialists such as chartered fire engineers or surveyors can support risk assessments, where required. The document therefore uses the same benchmark methodology as such risk assessments, with criteria including fire compartmentation and separation, internal and external fire spread, means of escape, fire detection and warning systems, and ensuring access for fire service vehicles.

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Ultimately, the decision on whether any element - including cladding - poses an unacceptable risk to life is down to the professional judgement of the risk assessor. The guidance can only offer benchmarks and information to help that decision, as each assessment is building specific. In light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and evidence from subsequent UK government fire tests the guidance recommends the removal of Category 3 metal composite materials (MCM’s) - including aluminium composites - from all residential buildings, regardless of height. The categories of MCM panels adopted as part of the BRE screening tests sponsored by MHCLG post Grenfell have been indicated as Category 1 (limited combustibility Calorific value ≤ 3 MJ/Kg), Category 2 (fire resistant- FR >3 and ≤35 MJ/Kg) and Category 3 (non-FR >35MJ/Kg.) Partially clad buildings with category 3 MCM’s should be risk assessed, and the document offers more detailed guidance on this process.

Alarm systems

Following consultation, the Scottish Government announced in March 2018 that the requirement for smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms, which previously applied to private rented property and new buildings alone, would be extended to all homes. This was agreed by Holyrood in January 2019. Under this new requirement, every home in Scotland must have a smoke alarm fitted in the living room or lounge, and in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings. 12 |

Every kitchen will also be required to have a heat alarm, which must be interlinked with the smoke alarms so they can be heard throughout the property. Furthermore, there must also be a carbon monoxide alarm where there are fixed combustion appliances. However, the Scottish Government has listened to public concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and asked Holyrood to delay implementation of these changes from February 2021 to February 2022, to give people more time to carry out this important safety work. Automatic fire suppression In January 2018, shortly after the inception of the fire safety building standards expert review panel, MSP David Stewart proposed a bill to require Scottish social housing to be fitted with fire suppression systems. Initially intended to apply to all new build and existing high-rise social housing, the proposals were amended in May that year to cover only the former. The Bill received cross party support from 60 MSPs, and the Scottish Government agreed to take over the legislation to give the proposals full effect. The regulatory change will require automatic fire suppression systems to be installed in all new flats and maisonettes, social housing and multi occupancy dwellings with more than 6 residents from 1st March 2021 applying to buildings of any height in those categories.

High-rise inventory report

In March 2020, the Scottish Government published the High-rise inventory: summary report. This provides information on the

construction and fire safety of high-rise domestic buildings with any storey at a height of more than 18 metres above the ground. It includes data for larger tenement style buildings as well as those that might be more commonly understood as traditional highrise flats. The inventory has been developed as a central source of information providing an overview of the key aspects of high-rise domestic buildings in Scotland, including their fire safety features. The data has been gathered by the Scottish government’s Scottish exchange of data, and continues a project commissioned from professional services company capita in 2018. Local authority building standards departments completed the inventory for all relevant buildings, with data provided or verified to the best of the respondents knowledge at the time of completing the inventory, and it should therefore be treated as a snapshot in time. This marks the first inventory of 744 high-rise domestic buildings in Scotland, and the intention is to update the report on an annual basis. The data gathered may be developed over time to ensure that it provides an accurate picture of fire safety in high-rise buildings and can be used to direct future policy, legislation and guidance.

Future standards board

The Scottish Government set up the Building Standards Futures Board early in 2019 to provide guidance and direction on the development and implementation of the review recommendations. The Board’s remit is to give strategic advice and direct a broad programme of work to improve the performance, resilience and sustainability of the Scottish building standards framework, and the expertise of services across the nation. Its work covers seven workstreams as follows. • Workforce strategy: facing an ageing workforce as well as lack of reinvestment in staff and innovation, this strategy will focus on identifying what is required to support a verification service for the future. • Compliance plan: large complex projects often change during the construction process. Recent failures have highlighted the need to ensure that designs receiving a building warrant are constructed in accordance with that design, especially the safety critical features. The use of compliance plans is being explored for complex and high value public buildings. • Certification strategy: reappointment of current certification bodies is ongoing and due to be completed this year. A strategy for the future development of certification is being prepared alongside this to identify


priorities and a range of short-, medium- and longterm measures. Digital transformation: A national online portal for building standards, Getting started on E building standards Scotland, was introduced in 2016, enabling electronic submission of applications for building warrants and other forms such as completion certificates. The digital transformation project will explore how technology can support and enhance building standards. Technical strategy: Technical guidance is used to ensure that projects fulfil building regulations, and to support compliance with the mandatory functional standards. A review on the way the technical handbooks are developed and communicated is being undertaken, and the technical strategy will direct the Scottish government’s provision of updates and guidance in future. The technical strategy may encompass more digital options as well, to improve compliance. Verification standards: A review of the operating and performance frameworks to help verifiers assess the service they provide against regulatory requirements is being carried out. Standards will focus on the quality and which verification work is undertaken and link the skills and experience of verifiers and applicants. Delivery models: The current model has Scotland’s 32 local authorities appointed as verifiers for their respective geographical areas. The need for a potentially improved and reshaped model has been identified, including a review of the need for central hubs of expertise.

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The Board is considering taking further measures in implementing the recommendations. Officials will also assess what legislative changes are required, with any reforms subject to public consultation.

Further review

Local government, housing and planning minister Kevin Stewart has instructed officials to convene a fire safety review panel to examine how to ban the highest risk cladding from buildings. It will also consider whether changes are required in the technical handbooks to mandatory standard 2.7, concerning fire spread on external walls, the role of the large scale facade fire test BS8414; and the question of competency in designing, installing and verifying cladding systems. This review, which is envisaged to last 12 months, will be advised by appropriate experts using the most up to date evidence to recommend further changes to building standards if required. The work set out in the initial MWG programme has largely been completed however, the MWG continues to pursue action in response to: • other cladding types, notably high pressure laminate cladding • the recommendations of phase one of the Grenfell tower fire inquiry • progress made by the Building Standards Futures Board, which is implementing recommendations from the building standards reviews. The safety of people in the built environment appears to be a priority for the Scottish Government, and although there is a confidence in our building standards there does not appear to be a complacency. There is an understanding that SBS will continue to undertake reviews, seek expert advice, and where appropriate implement any recommendations made including any evidence emerging from or recommendations made by the ongoing Grenfell tower fire inquiry. Credit : Benny Rooney (Senior Policy Officer Scottish Governments Building Standards Division)

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O N E O F T H E least unforeseen consequences of the 2020-21 pandemic was the torrent of new standards and regulations relating to fire safety. Not only did the Westminster government issue a significant number of updates and advisories (mainly as a consequence of the Grenfell tragedy) but these were accompanied by many new British Standards. Perhaps the outputs were a reflection of need (to support Government’s work) but a cynical observation might hint at the ease of convening working groups and committees on-line as having something to do with this. Certainly, from my own experience there have been many more meetings of the task groups undertaking the review of BS 9251 than have taken place on similar standards in ‘normal’ times. This article will review some of the more significant changes and also try to forecast what is still to come and also looks briefly at new legislation. 14 |

Sprinkler Standards Residential and Domestic The single greatest change is in standards for residential and domestic systems. The publication of BS EN 16925 (2018) Fixed firefighting systems – Automatic residential sprinkler systems – Design, installation and maintenance disappointed many in the UK fire community who believed that BS 9251 (which in its different guises) had been around for more than 20 years provided a good balance between simplicity, efficacy and cost. However, following scrutiny of the published standard, the responsible BSi committee proposed that BS 9251 be retained and revised to provide a standard where, for example, the water application rates took account of the UK regulators’ views rather than what were seen as the sub-optimal rates specified in the BS EN. The revision of BS 9251 also takes account of the need for a standard to cover taller

buildings - including those over 18m. One of the most significant changes in the revised standard will be a new building classification system which will take account of even the tallest buildings including those used for student accommodation and sheltered housing. It is anticipated that the revision will be published later in 2021 following approval from FSH/18 as the lead committee. Industrial and Commercial Systems An interim revision of BS EN 12845 took place in 2019 introducing minor changes but a major revision has been underway for some 5 years. The UK mirror committee has several times expressed some concern that the changes proposed are ‘revolutionary rather than evolutionary’ and also that the CEN/TC/WG charged with the revision is not properly resourced to provide transparency and compliance with CEN’s rules regarding consensus in WG work. Criticism of the existing EN 12845 by those seeking major change has included its coverage of ESFR systems and a suggestion that many specifiers are looking to FM Data Sheets or NFPA 13 instead. Work is also underway on additional parts of EN 12259 in respect of components – including ESFR heads, pumps, earthquake bracing and residential sprinkler heads. It’s not at present clear when a public full draft of the proposed revisions to EN 12845 will be made available but ‘best guesses’ suggest that this will not be until at least the latter part of 2021.

Water mist Standards

BAFSA members will already be aware that the first of a series CEN standards for water mist was published at the end of 2020. What will eventually become BS EN 14972-1. Fixed firefighting systems. Water mist systems. Part 1. Design, installation, inspection and maintenance will be published in midsummer 2021 with a National Foreword and national Annexes drafted by the UK mirror committee FSH/18/5. These reflect ongoing dissatisfaction with some of the content of the EN standard and the National Annexes go some way to correcting some of the more egregious errors and omissions. It is no exaggeration to record that if BSi was not obligated to publish this standard, it would have been even more forcibly resisted by the committee. Accompanying Part 1, the design and installation standard, there will eventually be a suite of supporting documents covering test protocols and components.


Already published are: Part 8: Fixed firefighting systems. Water mist systems. Test protocol for machinery in enclosures exceeding 260 m3 for open nozzle systems Part 9: Fixed firefighting systems. Water mist systems. Test protocol for machinery in enclosures not exceeding 260 m3 for open nozzle systems Test protocols in progress: Part 3: office, school classrooms and hotel for automatic nozzle systems Part 6: false floors and false ceilings for automatic nozzle systems Part 7: commercial low hazard occupancies for automatic nozzle systems Part 10: atrium protection with sidewall nozzles for open nozzle systems Part 11: for cable tunnels for open nozzle system nozzle systems Part 14: combustion turbines in enclosures exceeding 260 m³ for open nozzle systems Part 15: combustion turbines in enclosures not exceeding 260 m³ for open nozzle systems Part 17: residential occupancies Also being developed are components standards – the first covering design and testing of nozzles. It had been hoped that the UK standard for this, BS 8663-1 would be imported but this has not yet happened. It is expected that at some future date the existing British watermist standards (BS9458 and the 8489 suite) will have to be withdrawn under the UK’s agreement with CEN. This may create problems as a proposal for a revision to BS 8458 is currently being developed. This will cover the design testing and use of electronically-controlled watermist nozzles.

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BS 9991 Fire safety in the design, management and use of residential buildings: Code of practice (2015) is undergoing a major review with likely publication of the next iteration in mid 2022. A draft for comment is programmed for release in late 2021. The revision will take account of the significant changes in the UK built-environment post Grenfell and will include guidance on the benefits and use of automatic fire suppression systems in residential building including high rise. A revision of BS 9999 Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings. Code of practice is also likely to begin in 2022. BAFSA members and the wider sprinkler industry should also be aware of BS 8629 Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services in buildings containing flats which was introduced in 2020 and is now being mandated in all taller buildings. The PAS for fire risk assessment in residential buildings, PAS 79, following criticism by Grenfell survivor groups, has been withdrawn for revision with particular attention to be paid the way on which those with disabilities who live in high rises are catered for. Those seeking guidance on this should refer to PAS 79-1 (2020) Fire risk assessment. Premises other than housing. Code of practice or official guidance on FRA’s in sleeping risks.

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One of the central parts of the Government’s responses to the emerging findings of the Grenfell Report was enacted just before Parliament adjourned: The Fire Safety Act contents/enacted The principal changes of this Act (which applies to the whole of the UK) is to bring into the ambit of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 all premises which incorporate two or more sets of domestic premises. The Act also provides powers to issue new regulations for the enforcement of fire safety measures in residential premises. The Fire Safety Act also amends the Fire Safety Order to ensure that it applies to external walls (and anything attached to them including cladding and balconies) and flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings.

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T H E P A S T Y E A R has been one of change at the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC). The necessary reforms to building safety after the Grenfell tragedy led to the creation of the Protection Policy and Reform Unit within the NFCC, established to provide the link between Fire and Rescue Authorities and Government by representing the collective views and expert technical advice of Fire and Rescue Services (FRS). One of the key areas we continue to push the Government on is around the use of sprinklers. The NFCC has long advocated for a greater inclusion of Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS), including sprinklers, in the built environment in the UK

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and we are continuing to make the case at this time of building regulation reform. The Independent Review of Buildings Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt in 2018 found the regulatory system for buildings in England is not fit for purpose. This is very much in line with the experience of all fire and rescue services and their protection teams and has been further demonstrated since by several significant ‘total loss’ fires where the rate and scale of fire spread appears to have been linked to the construction of the building. Research clearly demonstrates that, as part of an appropriate package of fire safety measures, AFSS saves lives and reduce

injuries; protects property; reduces the impact of fire on the environment; reduces interruption to UK businesses; assists search and rescue operations and reduce the risk to firefighters; increases community resilience; and preserves heritage. Over the last year we have partnered with key organisations in the built environment calling on the Government to require the installation of sprinklers in schools, including the retrofitting of sprinklers in existing school buildings when relevant refurbishment takes place. In 2007, NFCC reported that initially, the statement of expectation in the design guide Building Bulletin 100: Design for fire Safety in Schools (that all new schools will have sprinklers fitted) had the desired effect as 70% of new schools in 2007 were fitted with sprinklers. Since then, however, this figure has subsequently fallen to 15%. It is pleasing to note however that the education sector and local authorities are starting to respond to the risks and recognise the value that fire sprinklers give. The NFCC is campaigning to strengthen this expectation of sprinklers so that it becomes legislatively mandated. We have been engaged with the Department for Education in England who are shortly to launch a consultation of its revised draft Design Guidance for Fire Safety in new schools. Beyond our work on sprinklers in schools, we have welcomed the change Approved Document B (ADB) of the Building Regulations which has lowered the threshold height for the installation of sprinklers in new blocks of flats to 11m. This is something we have been calling for, but whilst this change will help to lessen the risk of fire for residents in new build flats, there is still concern around the improvement of fire safety standards in existing buildings. Regulation 4(3) of the building regulations, known as the nonworsening clause, prevents the improvement of standards in existing buildings which undergo refurbishment. This is of particular concern in buildings converted to residential occupancy, particularly under Permitted Development Rights, which are often not brought up to current standards due to this clause. We have also set out some serious concerns relating to fire issues within care homes and would like to see AFSS mandatory in all new residential care premises and specialised housing. Our recently refreshed position statement sets out how we would like to see AFSS used in the context of hospitals, car parks, warehouses, waste management facilities and timber framed buildings. You can read the statement in full here. Of course, our protection focused work goes beyond sprinklers. We are playing a key


role in service improvement to help progress HMICFRS and Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations and are engaging regularly with Government on legislative development. LEADING SUPPLIERS OF WATER TANK INSPECTION In May, the Fire Safety Bill, which clarifies that External AND MAINTENANCE SERVICES FOR THE Wall Systems and flat front doors in residential buildings are FIRE PROTECTION AND WATER SUPPLY INDUSTRIES covered by the Fire Safety Order, gained Royal Assent and became an Act. The NFCC together with other stakeholders have helped to develop a Building Prioritisation Tool to support the Bill’s implementation, which we expect in the coming weeks. Quite understandably, discussions during the legislation’s passage focused on the issue of who should pay for historic defects. The NFCC has been clear throughout that these costs should not end with leaseholders. The Fire Safety Act’s passage does, however, pave the way for the introduction of the Building Safety Bill, which implements key Grenfell Tower recommendations. At the time of writing, we are expecting the Bill to be introduced before the summer Parliamentary recess and anticipate that extensive secondary legislation will be needed to support the Bill, which may form the subject of additional consultations. FOR ALL OF YOUR SPRINKLER TANK REQUIREMENTS – PLEASE GET IN TOUCH In addition, in March 2021 the Government published its WATER TANK INSPECTION & MAINTENANCE response to the Fire Safety Consultation held in 2020, setting out the next steps including: legislating through the Building Safety Bill EMERGENCY CALL OUTS to strengthen the FSO in a number of key areas; delivering new ULTRASONIC PIPE INSPECTION regulations through Article 24 of the FSO in response to the GTI T: 01544 388883 • E: Phase 1 Report recommendations; and implementing changes to improve engagement between building control bodies and fire and The Old Post Office House, East Street, Pembridge, Herefordshire. HR6 9HA rescue services. The Home Office have addressed many of the areas highlighted by NFCC in the evidence and views we have submitted, including policy changes to strengthen the quality of Fire Risk Assessments; that Plans Certificates be made mandatory for buildings covered by the FSO; and to increase the level of fines from Level 3 (£1,000) to Liquitech Bafsa Focus Advert 135 x 95.indd 1 30/04/2021 Level 5 (unlimited) for a range of offences. At the same time, the technical review of Approved Document B continues, and NFCC are represented across sixteen workstreams, ranging from Means of Escape for disabled persons to smoke and toxicity. Through the Joint Regulators Group (JRG), NFCC have led on an update to the Building Regulations Fire Safety Procedural Guidance and have worked with Local Authority Building Control (LABC) and other partners to produce a dispute resolution process that is intended to offer a framework for resolution of such The Next Chapter of Fire Safety Has Been Written situations by Consensus Decision making. One of the other areas that we are looking to engage further with Government on is that of the use of Modern Methods of The definitive guide to fire sprinkler Construction. Whilst we support the Government’s ambition to system specification is exclusively build homes quickly and sustainably, reducing the environmental available from BlazeMaster® ORDER YOUR DIGITAL impact wherever possible, and recognise the role that MMC can play OR PRINTED COPY Fire Protection Systems. in achieving this, we are clear that this should not be prioritised at the expense of safety. We have concerns that there remains a lack of understanding about the performance of MMC which presents significant uncertainty in the built environment. It is essential that MMC receive the appropriate level of scrutiny required to demonstrate compliance with the functional requirements of the building regulations. Assurance is needed that fire performance of materials, elements, and systems have been fully considered, tested appropriately, suitably evidenced, and provide the level of safety that residents and firefighters should expect. We welcome the current reform of building safety but significant cultural change in the system must take place to improve competency levels across the sector and ensure that MMC is promoted and used in a manner which provides safe buildings for all. There should not be a conflict between sustainability, improved building standards and fire safety.



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Removing illegal sprinklers from online sales platforms ALAN BRINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EUROPEAN FIRE SPRINKLER NETWORK

I T H A S L O N G annoyed responsible sprinkler manufacturers that sprinklers which do not appear to hold any approvals are offered for sale online. As explained in an excellent video from the International Fire Suppression Alliance (IFSA), sprinklers may not cost much but there is a lot of engineering behind them and they are rigorously tested to ensure they will control or extinguish fires, not just on the day they are installed, but decades later. Most products offered online have not been independently tested and are unlikely to work. In fact the IFSA found that when tested, unapproved Chinese sprinklers all failed. It may seem unfair to single out one country but all the unapproved ‘sprinklers’ I have found for sale online are from China. Approved sprinklers from BAFSA manufacturer members are not on Amazon and BAFSA manufacturers only sell to companies that are third-party accredited sprinkler installers. It is in nobody’s interest for the quality and reputation of sprinkler systems to be harmed by incompetent installations. In North America the IFSA has been in contact with Amazon to complain that its platform is being used to sell life safety products that are not fit for purpose, potentially breaking State laws. This initially had some success but it now seems that Amazon is dragging its heels in responding to notifications of illegal product offerings. In Europe Amazon has dedicated sites in many languages. You have to start somewhere so I looked at the UK site. With the support of Keith MacGillivray I compiled a list of all the unapproved sprinklers I found on Amazon’s UK site. Most were ½” chrome upright heads, with the same photograph used by numerous suppliers. In a couple of cases there were product reviews, showing that someone had actually bought the sprinkler! Those I found had only bought a few sprinklers each and had installed the sprinklers at home themselves. Given the strict control of the UK market and high level of knowledge of those working in it, I do not expect sprinkler installer companies to use these products. Frankly it is not worth

it with the risk of having to replace all the sprinklers (this happened to a company in the German-speaking part of Europe over 20 years ago) and potentially losing third-party accreditation. Not only that, the online prices are very high! Using the US contacts established by the IFSA we tried to contact Amazon in the UK. We were not getting much luck so I tried another approach: contacting an official at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. He was interested and supportive, sending an email to a dedicated team at Amazon UK, pointing out that the sprinklers in my list were all covered by the European Union’s Construction Products Regulation and post-Brexit UK regulations and must either be CE-marked or carry the UKCA mark. As they did not appear to carry either he asked Amazon to remove them from sale. It did. It also removed them from its German site but not, as far as I could tell, from any others. I was delighted this was so easy but three months later the products are back, with

new part numbers and new suppliers but the same photos. I also looked at Ebay. Quite a few legal sprinklers are offered on this platform but in all but one case they were either single sprinklers for collectors, or small quantities that appeared to have been left over from a recent project. There were no grounds to object to their sale. Meanwhile I found a sprinkler for sale on Amazon’s UK site that appeared to bear the logo of a well-known manufacturer and claimed to hold an international approval. The supplier was unknown to the manufacturer and both it and the approval body are taking this further. While illegal sprinklers are offered for sale on Amazon, I suspect that very few are being sold. That may explain why Amazon is now showing little interest in the issue in North America. Nevertheless I will keep an eye on this and later this year will submit a new list of products for removal. IFSA VIDEO

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Where there is smoke F O R T H O S E A T T U N E D to things fire related within the industrial and commercial space you will notice a steady stream of news reports. It is becoming common place to see that long distance shot of a large smoke plume palling over a local community on the news and social media. It is often accompanied by pictures of firefighters and pumps trying to contain the fire. Once the fire is under control that smoke clears, the press attention wains and the incident is largely forgotten. However, we should stop to think about the impact of these events. Naturally, thoughts tend to go to the financial impacts of the lost building, contents, the business disruption, and jobs. However, the environmental impacts have not gone away and given the drive for sustainability they should not be dismissed. 20 |

The fire impact

That visible smoke plume has an initial impact. Roads and local businesses are disrupted. Social media and press releases often contain requests for doors and windows to be closed. A recent incident where a recycling building fire in April 2021 led to 6 schools in Telford being closed for two days due to smoke from a nearby fire. The immediate impact is one thing. That smoke is contaminating the air and that contamination will leave deposits that will land with an impact on the land and water it is carried to. From a water perspective the firefighters will have contained the fire using volumes of water, hundreds of thousands of litres of water. For context one hundred thousand litres of water is equivalent to that used by 150, four person households in a day – a large fire will take multiples of this to control.


People will not be surprised given that volume that the fire service often work with the likes of the Environment Agency to contain incidents. A primary item is the control of firefighting water to limit the spread of the contamination. Whilst they are spraying water onto the fire, they will also be taking action to set up booms and systems to capture water. That water needs to be treated and disposed of carefully. This means tinkering or pumping to a suitable waste reception point. Water seeping into water courses needs on going monitoring to establish the impact and whether any remediation is needed. Physically the scene will then need to be stabilised and cleared. Damaged materials will need to be removed and disposed of as specialist waste. This is not a matter of a few kilogrammes of debris but hundreds of tonnes of material. Needing heavy equipment and lorries for its removal.


“our current regulatory thinking does not make sense from a sustainability perspective”

The drive for sustainability – it will make this better? For many years, the construction sector has been striving to deliver sustainable and green developments. Clients have sought these items to limit their own impacts on the environment. It has been supported by government regulations, incentives, certification schemes and the credits within them. These actions drive a pursuit in new construction techniques, natural materials, and the energy efficiency of the services. They are built with the same thinking in terms of fire safety and resilience as existing buildings. The impact of fire on the resilience of such buildings or what it could mean for their long-term sustainability is not a factor. This is neatly illustrated by the Carbon Neutral laboratory in Nottingham, UK which was constructed using mass timber but destroyed by fire in September 2013, shortly before it was completed. When it was rebuilt following the fire it was in line with regulations; it followed the original design and there was no increase in fire resilience – no active fire protection. The rebuild was given awards relating to its green credentials. Somehow the resources lost in the original fire and recreated, replaced, and reinstalled did not matter or count. Neither did the large plume of smoke, the thousands of litres of water and the removal of the charred remains were long forgotten. The fire is not mentioned and it as if it had no bearing on the claims for the efficiency and carbon neutral credentials.

Home of the LPCB & FM approved ZONE GUARDIAN…

…and other specialist products for fire sprinkler systems… BTL-Fire-A5-Mar2021.qxp_Layout 1 30/03/2021 16:21 Page 1



A holistic view

Automatic fire sprinkler systems have become increasingly effective through the application of science and technology. A commitment to R&D and enhanced customer service means that Balmoral now provides turnkey tank design and manufacture packages – complemented by proprietary FireFlow™ vortex inhibitors, roofs, access steelwork and bases – on a global basis. Installation services and service contracts are also provided if required. There is no room for compromise when it comes to fire safety. Choose once, choose the best. TRUSTED. INNOVATIVE. COLLABORATIVE. Member

Image courtesy of BP

This highlights two of the key challenges. Firstly, these impacts from an environmental perspective are not visible in the normal evaluation schemes used to green credentials or within regulations for development. Secondly our current regulatory thinking that buildings are disposable in the face of a fire, if everyone escapes, just does not make sense from a sustainability perspective. It is not a stretch to consider that minimising the fire damage will minimise the impacts of the event. From an environmental standpoint that limits the amount of material consumed and needing to be replaced. More importantly it restricts those contaminants that are released. Active forms of fire protection that minimise the fire feel a lot greener. Research is looking at quantifying these aspects. Some may be surprised to read a report on these issue from Sweden. It expands on many of the themes in this article and the need for further methods to capture these impacts. Given the current interest in sprinklers in schools some will be interested to read the experimental analysis of providing sprinklers in Swedish schools. This was done using the environmental costs that highlighted that if sprinklers could reduce fire damage by 50% and have a lifetime of 20 years there was an environmental gain. We all know this is possible. A future view of the world wherein protecting the hard-won resources so that they can be used and reused leads to a path where minimising fire incidents will be important. Active protection systems will increasingly make sense for this reason. They will also make sense when thinking of the desire for buildings that can be flexible in use throughout their life. The whole life cost of a building and its value will be tied to both these concepts. In a world where sustainability is key, a disposable building will no longer be the ‘right thinking’ – sprinkler protected ones will be.

• • • • • • • •

Cylindrical steel sectional tanks Hot press GRP sectional tanks Hot press steel sectional tanks Balmoral FireFlowTM vortex inhibitor Roof structures Tank towers Installation and technical services Full pipework service

BS EN 12845 compliant designs



I A L W A Y S R E M E M B E R the quote taken from the cult 80’s film Ferris Bueller Day Off: ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ When I reflect on my career in the London Fire Brigade (LFB) concluding as the Automatic Fire Suppression System (AFSS) Coordinator responsible for managing fire safety matters within the field of AFSS, I have to agree and pinch myself asking where did those 30 years go? One of my proudest achievements? The LFB Sprinkler Campaign working within our fire safety department and communication team campaigning for the mandatory fitting of sprinklers in new build flats. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government held a public consultation in September 2019 on lowering the threshold height for the installation of sprinklers in new high rise blocks of flats from 30m to 18m, in our response with many other Fire Rescue Services and sprinkler stakeholders we pressed for a further reduction to 11m. To everyone’s surprise the government listened to our evidence, announcing in January 2020 to lower the height threshold for the compulsory fitting of sprinklers in new build flats from 30m to 11m representing a major win for the LFB along with my Fire Rescue Service colleagues after years of work on this subject. The outcome providing a further layer of protection from fire for the residents of England by the installation of sprinklers. This chapter of my career has now closed, I now find myself representing The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association as a sprinkler ambassador continuing my crusade, engaging and maintaining working relationships with Sprinkler stakeholders such as The National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN), British Sprinkler Alliance (BSA) and Fire & Rescue Services throughout the country. 22 |

Driving a culture change so that sprinklers are understood and accepted as the norm. Allowing the installation of sprinklers to be made mandatory for vulnerable groups of society. So where should the next part of our sprinkler campaign be focusing on to influence government on further change, in my opinion making the installation of sprinklers mandatory in both new and existing housing stock housing the greatest risk, hostels, care homes and specialised housing. To achieve this goal, you require evidence to influence the circles of government to drive change. The success of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the NFSN publication investigating the effectiveness and reliability of sprinkler systems is one piece of evidence that supported the campaign to reduce the fitting of sprinklers in new build flats from 30m to 11m. To continue the pressure for change further evidence is required demonstrating the benefits of sprinklers. The collation of sprinkler saves is one way to achieve this by providing powerful evidence as to the ability of sprinklers to greatly reduce the effects of fire. A “sprinkler save” is when a fire starts in a building and one or more sprinkler heads activate to control or extinguish the fire before the Fire & Rescue Service arrive. The case study report, I completed following the fire that occurred in the balcony fire at West Hampstead, on 3rd July 2018 involving the actuation of multiple nozzle heads for the LFB, raised awareness in the residential sector of the beneficial/ effectiveness impact that incorporating sprinklers can have in a multi-point residential high rise fire. Steve Mills, past Fire & Rescue Services’ co-ordinator for BAFSA and ex NFSN secretary, was passionate on collating sprinkler saves chasing Fire & Rescue Services for sprinkler saves on a daily basis. Since Steve’s retirement the focus on this key area has unfortunately diminished.

‘Sprinkler Saves’ provide powerful evidence as to the ability of sprinklers to greatly reduce the effects of fire” BAFSA, NFSN and the NFCC have now relaunched a campaign encouraging those in the sprinkler sector and the Fire & Rescue Services to report sprinkler saves, the outcome of which will provides powerful evidence to the ability of sprinklers to greatly reduce the effects of fire. We want to demonstrate the benefits, provide evidence, and advise politicians, developers, designers and the general public of the benefits of suppression, specifically to encourage the installation of AFSS in the homes of the most vulnerable people. To make sprinklers the norm and not the exception, we require your support. If you know of a sprinkler save report it, it makes a difference. Further details can be on the new designated sprinkler save website or by contacting me at Looking forward, when I close this chapter representing BAFSA, I hope I can reflect and state that we all made a difference influencing change by the installation of sprinklers.


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BAFSA launches new website

different types of fire suppression system, is what we provide :

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the number of years we’ve been installing, maintaining and protecting new and existing buildings.

We want to enhance protection against fire through the increased acceptance and use of fire sprinklers by encouraging the wider acceptance and installation of sprinklers driving a culture change so that sprinklers are understood and accepted as the norm in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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One way to achieve this is by working with all of the BAFSA membership and our Fire and Rescue Service representatives to collate sprinkler saves, promoting their ability to operate/control a fire. And now BAFSA has launched providing a central and comprehensive record of fire incidents where sprinklers played their essential role in controlling if not extinguishing the fire. A Sprinkler Save is where one or more sprinkler heads activate to control/extinguish a building fire – providing powerful evidence as to the ability of sprinklers to reduce the effects of fire. Reporting a sprinkler save will make a difference

25/02/2021 13:25

Like the insurance sector, the fire safety sector is rooted in providing advice and protection around risk – to safeguard people, property and the environment. Whether that advice is effective or not is down to the knowledge and insight of the adviser.

Advice that makes a difference.

Further guidance/support is available by contacting

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13/04/2021 13:02

Ensure the highest level of protection from fire

Anything less will not protect you or your property



Offering enhanced protection to vulnerable residents Plumis’ watermist suppression system was installed by approved Automist installer MC Fire Protection at a high-quality, adaptable home in Oxford to offer enhanced fire protection for vulnerable residents now and in the future.

The challenge

Ethical housing investor and developer Walls & Futures was appointed to design and develop a brand new, high-quality adaptable home to meet the wide-ranging needs of its residents now and in years to come. The client was a specialist charity providing a care and support service for residents with autism, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and early onset dementia who had lived together in the same two-storey property for a number of years. Since moving into the building the fire safety challenges had changed significantly, with many of the residents posing higher risks due to reduced mobility and requiring greater levels of support.


Walls & Futures identified a nearby bungalow that the team planned to extend and renovate to meet the needs of the charity’s residents. As part of the project, Walls & Futures wanted to explore any innovative solutions that could further improve support for the residents moving in. A key aspect of sourcing any modern and relevant technologies, was identifying features and equipment that would be discreet – without compromising safety – but would enable Walls & Futures to create what looked and felt like a contemporary home.

Whilst most people are familiar with how a traditional sprinkler system looks and works, Walls & Futures wanted to integrate a modern alternative. Already aware of Plumis’ Automist Smartscan Hydra as a suitable alternative fire suppression system (AFSS) and the increased protection it provides to those considered vulnerable, the team contacted approved installer MCFP to draw up plans on the best approach for installing the system.


Automist offers a number of different detection options including one or more multisensory detectors via a relay contact. To support the needs of this fire safety project, MCFP integrated the system with an addressable fire alarm panel – making it easier to maintain and manage one system, as opposed to two. Once activated and the alarm is raised, a pump drives mains water through the unique nozzle unit, quickly filling the room volume with a dense fog. Water mist removes heat

and displaces oxygen from the fire zone, resulting in fire control, suppression or extinguishment. The intention is to lower the temperature and the accumulation of toxic gases, thereby reducing damage and increasing survivability. Joe McTaggart, managing director at Walls & Futures, said: “We wanted a smart system that would target the origin of a fire efficiently and effectively. When we discovered that Automist uses heat and smoke detectors in tandem to achieve exactly that, as well as providing increased protection to those considered vulnerable, we knew this would be the perfect system for this housing development.” Upon completion of the project, MCFP also provided a demonstration and full training to the residents’ carers to ensure they knew what happens when the system is triggered and how exactly the system works. PLUMIS

| 25


From the sprinkler head New members J N Dobbin APW Fire Protection Ltd Woodward & Co Environmental MB Fire Pumps Deltak Associates ALSS Thor Fire DDS Sprinklers AM Fire Systems SIKA AUI Inspection Limited DCI Fire Protection And welcome back Risk (Consulting (David Smith) Ltd RAD Fire Sprinklers

Obituaries In the past 6 months BAFSA has lost two long terms supporters of BAFSA and passionate advocates of sprinklers who will be sorely missed by all who knew them. JOHN SINCLAIR Co-Founder and Managing Director of Compco Fire Systems Ltd John passed away in December 2020 following a recurrence of illness. John had been part of the sprinkler industry for many years having set up Compco Fire Systems Ltd almost thirty three years ago. He was an active and influential member of many of BAFSA’s Committees and in particular the Skills and Qualifications Committee over the last five years. LES DOLAN Les Joined Tubetrade in Oct 2008 just before his 60th birthday, and in October 2018 just after his 70th He played for the TT intercompany squash team from January 2010 to September 2016, and was “a joy to work with”. Les had strong ties throughout the sprinkler industry and was a keen supporter of BAFSA, often making valuable contributions to the Communications and Market Development committee.

26 |


Performance beyond compliance Hall & Kay is proud to have received a ‘Performance Beyond Compliance’ certificate from the Considerate Constructors Scheme for the second year running! This is awarded when a company outperforms the scheme’s company code of considerate practice and we managed to achieve scores of higher than 7 points in each of the 5 sections across two of our Londonbased projects. A big thanks to our project teams who constantly work hard to uphold the highest Environmental, Health and Safety standards.

NFCC welcomes new Chair The new Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Mark Hardingham, said it was a “huge honour’ to be taking up the role at the beginning of April for an initial twoyear period. Formerly the Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service – and Chair of the NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Committee – Mark brings a wealth of experience to the position and succeeds the first NFCC Chair, Roy Wilsher.

The FPA gains UKAS accreditation The Fire Protection Association is among the first UK testing laboratories to become UKAS accredited for BS 8458 water mist system testing. The FPA has been awarded UKAS accreditation to carry out fire tests on water mist systems to BS 8458 : 2015 Fixed fire protection systems – Residential and domestic water mist systems – Code of practice for design and installation. The FPA recognised that there were limited test facilities third-party accredited to conduct BS 8458 fire test, meaning there were limited ways to purchase an approved domestic or residential Water mist system which had been tested by a competent certified laboratory. This announcement of receiving UKAS accredited certification cements our view that this standard must be taken seriously. It underpins confidence that the service we provide meets the expectations of BS 8458 through a process that verifies integrity, impartially and competence.

Plumis wins national award British engineering firm Plumis, whose clients include a range of local authorities and housing associations, took gold in the ‘Innovation of the Year’ category at the national finals of the Make UK Manufacturing Awards. The annual awards recognise the creativity, dedication and resilience of manufacturers that have done exceptional work to provide better solutions in their sector. Judges praised the London-based company for its reinvention of the traditional fire safety sprinkler and the organisation’s growth through developing solutions to meet the needs of new markets. Since its formation in 2008, Plumis has developed its domestic fire suppression misting technology Automist as, an effective and easy-to-fit alternative to conventional sprinklers. William Makant, CEO and Co-Founder of Plumis, said: “Winning this national award is a testament to our team’s hard work and commitment to taking a fresh approach to addressing the challenges of keeping people safe from fire in their homes. “We formed Plumis with the aim of creating a more effective alternative to traditional fire sprinkler systems and we will continue to innovate as we evolve our products further.” Plumis has previously won numerous awards, including the Red Dot Design Award and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation.



Providing care, support & guidance The team at SPP Pumps work closely with several volunteering programmes and charities who work endlessly over the years to provide care, support and guidance for people who need help no matter what the circumstance. 2020 was an especially challenging year and saw the demand for foodbanks rise significantly. It also saw the start of a loyal partnership between SPP Pumps Ltd and the Forest Foodbank. The Forest Foodbank, part of the UK wide Trussell Trust, distributes between two and three tonnes of food each month to local families in need. Every day people in our communities go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income resulting in no money left to buy food. Therefore, a simple box of food makes a big difference contributing to preventing crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems. With this in mind SPP donated over 23kg of food to this everexpanding hard-working foodbank network. The Innovation Lab, based at the Coleford Library, Gloucestershire is a hub that has been created to inspire, engage and up-skill people of all ages to have fun while building confidence in using virtual reality, 3D modelling, printing, design and coding. Since its first pilot workshop last June, SPP has worked in partnership with the Innovation Lab to provide digital technology and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workshops for local primary school children. The programme itself owes its great success to the STEM ambassador volunteers from SPP Pumps. However, unfortunately, since the emergence of Covid-19 progress with this exciting and innovative programme has taken a bit of a back seat.

Naming rights of local football stadium Aquatherm has taken over the naming rights of Kent’s “Town of Kings” Faversham FC stadium. Club chairman Paul Bennett said: “We are a community club, committed to not only representing the town at semi-professional level, but also providing football at youth level for boys and girls of all ages. We can only do that with the backing of local companies who want to get involved in helping us, and we’re very grateful to all the businesses who are part of the Faversham Town family.” “Aquatherm have helped sponsor teams in our youth section for a number of years, so increasing their commitment to rename the stadium is a step-up that will help us provide football in the town.”


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Queen’s award for enterprise for sustainable development

An interesting year for Domestic Sprinklers Domestic Sprinklers have continued through the pandemic and had an interesting year. With prudent management and careful planning, we have managed to sustain the business effectively and with our COVID safe plan in operation we are able to keep our valued staff and valued customers safe at all times. Going forward into this year we aim to continue to provide an outstanding market leading fire suppression service that delivers first-rate value to our customers. We have recently been commissioned to carry out the retro installation of 10 social housing blocks for Wandsworth & Richmond Council in London. The project commenced in April and will continue into early next year. Horizons, a prestigious development in St. Helier, Jersey, will consist of 280 luxury apartments over 3 blocks with retail outlets on the ground floors and a large underground carpark. The sprinkler system is being installed within every apartment, communal area and the car park. We continue to improve upon and maintain our high-quality work systems and work standards and this year have gained: IFC accreditation, ISO 9001:2015, Construction Line Gold, FIA membership and Considerate constructors. A lead team member(s) from each of our offices has undertaken the BAFSA R&D design course allows them as fire sprinkler installers to increase their understanding and competency on site. During the last quarter of 2020 we looked at rebranding in order to build a good experience and create a consistent, fresher brand story. We will continue to roll out the brand through all our business assets. Why not follow us on one of our social media channels - search Domestic Sprinklers. 28 |

Armstrong Fluid Technology has been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. This award recognises Armstrong’s leadership in sustainability, including improvements in daily operations, contributions to the sustainability of customers, and support for sustainability initiatives in local communities. Now in its 55th year, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in the country, with recognised businesses able to bear the esteemed Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years. Of the exclusive list of just 205 organisations recognised this year, Armstrong Fluid Technology is one of only seventeen to receive an award in the Sustainable Development category and the company now also holds the distinction of being the first company in the commercialscale HVAC sector to receive a Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. In 2013, the company brought together its sustainability efforts to form a single global program, called Planet Proposition, to drive progress towards more ambitious environmental targets. The sustainability improvements, made through the Planet Proposition program and led by Steve Cooper, Sustainable Design Director, have now been recognised with the UK’s most prestigious business award, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

Supporting the elderly and the vulnerable Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has entered a formal partnership with Age UK in North, South and West Dorset (NSWD) to provide additional support to elderly and vulnerable residents in these areas. Under the agreement, the Service will train staff at Age UK NSWD on its Safe & Well programme, so they can help to identify vulnerable people at greater risk of fire and make referrals for a home visit. During these visits, Safe & Well Advisors don’t just look at fire safety, they talk with the individuals and signpost them to relevant agencies that can provide them with additional support – one of which would be Age UK.

Fire Conference returns for 2021 Planned for 9th November 2021 at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Centre in London, the Fire Conference, a joint initiative between the IFE, NFCC and FPA, is heralded as the centre point for sector leaders and stakeholders to come together in a collaborative format to discuss and debate major challenges affecting fire safety. This year’s themes include collaboration and efficiency, competence and culture in fire and beyond, equality and diversity, and responsibility and accountability.

New appointments DOMESTIC SPRINKLERS a major sprinkler contractor based in Dorset has welcomed 4 new team members : Shane Holliday, Contracts Manager and Health & Safety Manager; Luke Boast, Commercial Designer; Paul Wisbey, Marketing Manager; Jemma SellenHobson, Design Administrator. BALMORAL TANKS provides a broad portfolio of liquid storage products for the firefighting, water and other markets has stengthened its position by announcing two senior appointments – one at each of its manufacturing locations. Gary Lockwood becomes the new operations director at Balmoral Tanks’ Llantrisant facility in South Wales while Cheong Tsang moves into a similar role in Thurnscoe, South Yorkshire.

Due to the small incremental changes the building did not perform as it was designed, in the original design the evacuation strategy was stay put, each flat forming its own fire compartment. The smoke should have ventilated through the unenclosed walkway which was designed to haveBcross ventilation, this did not AFSA FOCUS JUNE 2021 happen because the openings were enclosed with double glazed window units, the smoke, instead of dispersing, filled first the corridor and then the stairwell, compromising the escape routes. Smoke entered the flat where the window had been compromised via the window vent, when the occupier subsequently tried to evacuate, they found the escape routes impassable, and had to be rescued via ladder. The fire door which was damaged by the steel shutter allowed the smoke to enter the flat, the shutter became hot to the touch so the occupant could not escape the flat and this occupant was also rescued by ladder. Smoke was found to have entered 3 other flats which had to be Sprinklers known to beno anobvious extremely effective wayentering of evacuatedare also by ladder, route for smoke the controlling spread of fire, but time of course, all systems they other flatsthe could be found at the of thelike incident on further MUST be maintained. guidance identifies when maintenance inspection there wereThis a number of small service penetrations (cables) through wallsonand floors which hadThe allowed and testing needs compartment to be carried out sprinkler systems. correct smokeatpercolation. testing the required intervals demostrates best practice as well as The minor alterations carried by the building ownersboth and life giving the peace of mind that theout sprinklers are protecting by property. the tenants had a significant effect on the suitability of the and building for a stay put policy, the flats were subsequently designated unsuitable for stay put until such time as refurbishment works Annual inspections of the entire sprinkler system were carried out and the integrity of the compartmentation could bybean independent third party assured, to facilitate the new simultaneous evacuation strategy With reference to BS EN 12845: 2015 +to. A1: 2019 Fixed firefighting a new fire alarm system was installed The glazed units have systems. Automatic Design, installation andbeen been replaced withsprinkler openablesystems. windows, the front doors have maintenance 21, and bulletin the replaced withClause fire doors. Thetechnical window vent and(TB) the 203.2.4 security of shutter LPC Sprinkler Rules for Automatic Sprinkler Installations 2015 (the have been removed. LPC Rules) TB203.2.4, systems should inspected Whilst no one was sprinkler harmed, apart from somebe minor smoke at least once a year. this These inspections must be undertaken byhave a third party, inhalation, could have been far more serious, we for example not effects the system owner, building occupier, system seen the tragic of similar issues at Lakanal House and installer orGrenfell maintenance Tower. provider. Regulation 38 is the first step in providing the golden thread of information which it is hoped will stop such tragic events again. 25happening year inspection of sprinkler heads It is a requirement of sprinkler systems designed in accordance with the LPC and BS EN 12845 that a sample number of sprinkler heads should be removed and tested by an independent, third party testing laboratory. This should be carried out when the system is a maximum of 25 years old,and may be sooner if the system is in poor condition or if recommended by the sprinkler head manufacturers.

From the sprinkler head

FPA issues guidance

Total number of sprinklers within installation or System

Number of sprinklers to be removed & inspected

Less than or equal to 5,000


Less than or equal to 10,000


Less than or equal to 20,000


Less than or equal to 30,000


Less than or equal to 40,000


Sprinklers subject to contamination, such as those in spray booths, may require more frequent attention and replacement. In addition, based on insurance requirements, the LPC Rules and TB 203 the following situations will need additional inspections. Dry pendant pattern sprinkler heads (those with a dry drop pipe section) should be tested every five years or less unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer – 5% or 20 heads of each batch of dry pendant patterned sprinklers installed on the site (whichever is the greater) should be tested. Multiple controls (also known as MJCs) can be subject to a build up of corrosion and environmental deposits, and so will need testing more frequently. These should be tested every five years or less unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer – 6% or three MJCs (whichever is the greater) should be tested.

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From the sprinkler head NEW PRODUCTS

New corrosion resistant pipe technology The increased corrosion resistance required in water mist system pipework can come with an increased cost, sometimes significantly, compared with the equivalent piping used on a sprinkler system in the same risk. This additional cost can become a hindrance to the specification and acceptance of water mist systems. There is also mounting evidence that the performance of galvanised pipes is not as expected. Now Viking has introduced their new Fendium pipe technology with significantly improved corrosion protection and improved hydraulics compared to standard black steel (including galvanised) pipe networks. In a patented process adapting technology from the automotive industry which has a long and proven track record in providing excellent corrosion protection under harsh environmental conditions, this technology provides a polymer protection which is permanently bonded with the steel surface, both on the exterior and on the interior of the pipes. These polymer-enhanced pipes prevent the contact of water with the steel, significantly reducing the effects of corrosion. Fendium pipes have demonstrated excellent corrosion resistance properties, which has been recognised by FM and VdS. Further, VdS was also able to demonstrate the improved hydraulic performance to the extent that a C-factor of 140 is able to be used in hydraulic calculations. Fendium – simply the better pipe! VIKING 30 |

Fail-safe priority demand valves Thinner wall sprinkler pipe Plastic pipe manufacturer Aquatherm will soon have its second offering to the sprinkler market available in the UK with the launch of the thinner walled SDR11 MF RP pipe. Aquatherm’s thermal fusion method of jointing means that any sprinkler system installed is one continuous system with no leak paths. With fusion occurring at 260°C, glues or solvents are not required thus eliminating the need for COSHH assessments or hot works permits on site for installers. Red pipe fusion times start at around 12 seconds for 20mm pipe, and the system can be pressure tested within minutes of the installation, saving valuable time on site. Aquatherm Red carries LPCB and FM certification as well as Lloyds Type approval. With the increasing price of steel in the UK, the new pipe from Aquatherm will be welcomed with open arms by sprinkler firms looking for similar options with a lower price. AQUATHERM

SEP is excited to announce the launch of its brand new range of fail-safe Priority Demand Valves. Work on these has been underway for a while – the specialist nature of these valves (within domestic or residential fire sprinkler systems, designed to cut off the ’domestic’ water supply in the event of a fire sprinkler activation, to prioritise the sprinkler system demand) is right up SEP’s street…specialist manufacture, responding to market demands, and using only top quality components. This fail-safe product (automatically closing in the event of a power failure) uses WRASapproved valves in sizes from ½”/15mm right up to 6”/150mm. Valves up to 2” were initially introduced, using a 24VDC WRAS-approved solenoid valve but then SEP launched butterfly valve models from 2.5” up to 6”. The larger sizes are based on a top quality electrically actuated butterfly valve with battery backup and emergency manual override. All connections, control panels and valves are minimum IP65-rated; the butterfly valves have both physical and LED status indicators, and an additional set of relay contacts for any supplementary signalling requirements is provided. SEP


Dual port valve sets

Extending the one-bolt installation-ready technology Victaulic’s new FireLock™ Installation-Ready™ Style 109 Rigid Coupling extends one-bolt Installation-Ready technology to DN32 to DN100 sizes. Previously available to DN25, the one-bolt design brings increased efficiencies, safety and value to fire protection systems. Rated up to 2517 kPa with no torque requirement for installation, this coupling can be joined up to six times faster than traditional couplings and allows for visual inspection of a single pad bolt, adding confidence in a leak-free installation. The two-piece housing is easily handled and installed overhead, while the one-bolt design eliminates alternating during tightening. FireLock™ IGS grooved sprinklers are designed to replace threads on both sprinkler outlets and sprinklers. The sprinkler and coupling arrive pre-assembled and require no preparation before installation. The biggest time-saver and labor management advantage is the elimination of sprinkler prep work and the tape and dope. A mechanical connection also allows the fitter to use a power tool to avoid applying torque directly to the sprinkler frame, in turn reducing the likelihood of leaks when the system is pressurised. Another advantage is that it does not require complicated training or tools. Utilising visual confirmation of one bolt pad for proper installation instead of using a torque wrench makes installation simple and gives users peace-of-mind. VICTAULIC

The Applications Engineering 1 ½” & 2“ dual port fire sprinkler valve sets have been specifically designed for the residential & domestic market. Dual ports enable the AEL compact flow switch to be easily installed on either side using the ¾” union nut without the need for awkward 360° rotation of the whole switch, plus the 1” BSP female port allows the option to fit a Potter VSR-S series flow switch if required. A monitored ball valve can be supplied with the valve set or retrofitted and, using Applications Engineering’s unique design, also gives the option to monitor the flow switch. Other features include: • 100% pressure tested • Lockable inlet valve handle • Full bore test valve • Glycerine filled 16 bar pressure gauge • Easy access for servicing • Less joints minimise risk of leaks The 1 ½” model is now in stock with 2” available from stock very soon. A full range of adaptors and fittings can be fitted in house. APPLICATIONS ENGINEERING

Fire sprinkler design training Fire sprinkler consultancy Fire sprinkler designs Sprinkler animations During the past year BAFSA have produced three brief animated films promoting sprinklers in schools, care homes and warehouses. These unique, short animations deliver a strong message quirkily and succinctly. They each can bolster your message to clients and educate and inform other interested parties. View them at and, if you would like to put them on your website, email your request to BAFSA

Expertise in Fire Protection Contact Alan


Technical queries & resolutions In this issue we highlight some of the many questions which have come through to the BAFSA Technical Team on sprinkler systems in schools, warehouses and care homes. What is the maximum area of a warehouse without installing a sprinkler system in the UK?

resolution The limit in the UK (as dictated by the Governments Approved Document B Volume 2) is 20,000 m2. What is the maximum height that you can stack freestanding and/or in racks without a sprinkler system and the maximum with roof only sprinklers only installed?

resolution This is a very broad scope question and much more details are required to give a clear and definitive response. The UK sprinkler rules are based on large volumes and their interpretation can be quite complex. I strongly suggest you consider getting an approved 3rd party sprinkler installer to sit down with you and work out the sprinkler arrangement best suited to your project. In the UK this pre-project help is common as most sprinkler firms have technical sales reps who do this task. 32 |

Where would I be able to find information about which sprinkler standards to use for the protection of warehouses?

resolution In the UK the most common sprinkler design standard used is BS EN 12845 (about 220 pages) and it can be purchased from BSI. If fire insurers are involved they may require the use of the Loss Prevention Sprinkler Rules incorporating BS EN 12845 (about 590 pages) which can be purchased from the Fire Protection Association. Other sprinkler rules used in the UK for industrial premises are FM Global and NFPA rules, these are American sprinkler standards. How do we protect a tyre warehouse that is not permanently manned?

resolution The first thing to do is discuss the necessity for sprinklers with your client’s insurers as they will have an opinion on how best to protect the asset. Tyre storage is one of the highest risk categories in the sprinkler rules. We recommend that sprinklers are installed particularly if: • the warehouse is in an area where it may be susceptible to vandalism/arson. • it is left unattended for prolonged periods. • it is in danger of fire spread from any nearby hazards. LPC Sprinkler Rules Technical Bulletin TB209 addresses Rubber Tyre storage, storage heights, ceiling heights etc.

We have a leak on our underground sprinkler main. Can a plumbing contractor do the repair, or do I have to re-employ the original sprinkler installer company? The underground pipes were installed by the main contractor at the time of the installation at our warehouse.

resolution The repairs can be undertaken by any competent M+E contractor but we strongly advise that you employ a competent thirdparty accredited sprinkle installer to monitor the sprinkler system. They can safely isolate the system prior to repair, and make sure that it is correctly reinstated after the repairs are done. The sprinkler company can be the original installer but not necessarily, provided whoever you use has the same level of sprinkler competence. Can CPVC sprinkler pipes be installed on curved walls and can sprinkler heads be installed in swimming pool areas.

resolution CPVC pipes have a large variety of fittings that can be used to fix to curved areas some have angles of as little as 22.5°. These will overcome most curved wall situations. As for sprinkler heads in swimming pool areas there are ‘corrosion resistant’ models available that should be suitable in this harsh atmosphere. Get your sprinkler installer to investigate the best type with a reputable supplier of approved sprinkler heads.


A heating/plumbing contractor was asked to service and maintain a sprinkler system in a care home. They asked if they could undertake the work or did they need specific training/certification.

resolution Service and maintenance of sprinkler systems is normally undertaken by an accredited sprinkler installer who employs competent engineers. These companies usually have third party accreditation from a number of schemes in the UK i.e. LPS 1048, FIRAS. Most sprinkler systems will have a ‘Certificate of compliance’, i.e. an LPS 1048 Certificate. The servicing must be done by an accredited company to ensure the certificates continued validity. The sprinkler design standards like BS 9251 outlines the servicing and maintenance of sprinkler systems and who should be entrusted to do same. BS EN 12845 gives details of servicing of commercial systems. Can the room that houses the sprinkler control valve be used for other purposes i.e. a staff welfare room with washing facilities or does it have to be exclusively used for the sprinkler control valve?

resolution The sprinkler system is probably designed to BS 9251 and the relevant requirement is in rule 5.11 (h) which states: “measures to prevent tampering with components of a sprinkler system that would isolate the water supply from the rest of the sprinkler system.” To that end I would suggest that you have something like a wire mesh cage installed around the control valve to prevent intentional /inadvertent tampering and protects the valve from mechanical damage. The cage/valve can be locked using a leather or fibre strap so the fire and rescue service can cut it if they need quick access. Also add a few large clear notices like: SPRINKLER SYSTEM CONTROL VALVE DO NOT TOUCH. On a domestic sprinkler system a sprinkler head is leaking, and the client asked how they could find out if it was fitted and checked correctly by the installer.

resolution The first thing to do is the get the installer to repair the leak and investigate why it happened. Usually on completion of the installation of the sprinkler system the installing company will carry out a ‘Leakage Test’ of the system pipework. BS 9251 Paragraph 6.2.2 states: “The sprinkler system should be pressurised to a minimum pressure of 8 bar, or to 1.5 times the maximum working

pressure, whichever is the greater, for 1 h. If the sprinkler system fails to maintain pressure, the leak should be found and corrected and this test repeated. The installer will also include the results of the ‘leakage test’ in the handover documents on completion of the contract. Most sprinkler systems will have a 12 month warranty period. On a care home sprinkler system the client asked about certification of a specific manufacturer’s CPVC pipe and how they could ‘fire stop’ the penetration holes in walls.

resolution The manufacturer you mention have their products approved in the UK to LPS 1260 approval scheme run by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB). Extracts from the manufacturer’s installation guide on CPVC were attached and this shows how to handle pipes passing through fire rated walls/floors/ partitions. It was emphasised the necessity to use only mastic or filler that the manufacturer states are compatible with their CPVC pipe. Note also in the guide the need for caution when pipes pass through partition that may have sharp metal edges. On a care home sprinkler system the sprinkler head (on a flexible drop) was secured above the ceiling tile with a light wire spring type fixing. The client asked if it was robust enough to retain the head in position during a fire.

resolution BS 9251 Paragraph states: d) Supports should prevent the pipe from being dislodged, and e) Supports should be secured in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. In most cases the support for flexible drops consists of a metal bar secured to the ceilings ‘T bar support’ and a metal clamp at the sprinkler head. It was suggested that they check the flexible drops manufacturers data for the correct arrangement of the fixing. We have a new care home that has a car park underneath. What fire hazard does it need for sprinklers?

resolution The hazard classification for car parks is Ordinary Hazard 2. This classification can be found in Table A-2 in Annex A of BS EN 12845.

How are laboratories classified in an educational establishment? Are they a higher fire risk than the other classrooms?

resolution SSLD-8 was issued by the Dept. of Children, Schools, and Families (Now Dept. of Education) in 2008. In it, it mentions Laboratories on Page 16 with some guidance based on room size. We have a school with a sports hall. The sprinkler installer has fitted some guards on the lower-level sprinklers but the client wants all the sprinklers in the hall protected with guards. Are there any regulations that state where it is compulsory to fit these guards?

resolution None of the sprinkler rules (BS 9251, BS EN 12845) specifically mention that all sprinklers in a sports facility must be protected by a sprinkler guard. BS EN 12845 Paragraph 14.6 states: When sprinklers, other than ceiling or flush sprinklers, are installed in a position at risk of accidental mechanical damage, they shall be fitted with a suitable metal guard. The sprinkler installer will usually indicate on their design drawings what sprinkler heads will be fitted with guards. This is their opinion of what heads are vulnerable to mechanical damage. These design drawings are normally issued to the client or the client’s representatives for approval prior to installation. That is the stage of design that gives any authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) the opportunity to approve/comment on the design and clarify any addition requirements they may have. The property owner or their representative needs to specify to the sprinkler installer and others i.e lighting, smoke/fire detection installers the areas of, and level of mechanical protection required. Can multiple small single storey buildings on a school site be fed from a single water supply like a pump and tank?

resolution A single water supply can be used to feed sprinklers in multiple buildings via underground mains. I would suggest that each building has its own installation control valve and electrically monitored isolating valve so that only one building need to be isolated should any repairs or maintenance can be done.

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