Sprinklers: the benefits, myths and uses


The benefits, myths and uses

Benefits of sprinklers

  • provides protection - sprinklers are designed to save lives, but because they control fires so quickly they also significantly reduce property damage: read how Southampton's historic flour mill was saved by sprinklers
  • assists business continuity – a sprinkler system ensures a speedier return to business as usual following a fire 
  • reduction in fire damage - sprinkler systems can contain and extinguish a fire in less time than it may take the Fire and Rescue Service to attend the incident 
  • fire is controlled quickly - sprinkler system in around 2 minutes, Fire and Rescue Service attendance up to 8 minutes 
  • reduces water damage - only the sprinklers closest to the fire will activate - given any fire situation, a sprinkler system will use significantly less water than the Fire and Rescue Service  

Sprinkler myths

  • sprinklers are unreliable – every sprinkler head is individually tested: world records show that out of 16 million sprinklers installed every year, only 1 will fail
  • sprinklers may go off accidentally -  the sprinkler discharge due to manufacturing defect is very unlikely at around 1 in 16 million – you have more chance of winning the national lottery jackpot
  • sprinkler heads are intrusive - modern heads lie flush with the ceiling, beneath a barely visible cover plate, coloured to blend in with surrounding décor
  • sprinklers are expensive - installed during new construction, sprinklers cost just 1% to 1.5% of the total build cost and residential sprinklers may be used as a compensatory feature in the absence of more traditional fire safety measures

Using sprinklers

In schools and non residential accommodation

In partnership with Hampshire County Council, we have designed an affordable, innovative and bespoke Asset Protection Sprinkler system for use in schools and other non residential premises.

Asset Protection Sprinkler system

Following extensive consultation and development of an alternative specification for sprinkler systems, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire County Council, with the assistance of a sprinkler engineer, designed the system.

The Asset Protection Sprinkler system's benefits are that:

  • it has the potential to save money on installation, maintenance and testing costs over time, making this a cost-effective system for protecting your assets
  • it offers an additional level of protection for those who are unable to afford other sprinkler systems
  • it is fit for purpose to ensure the protection of schools and other non residential premises

FIRAS has indicated that the system will be given approval under their third party accreditation scheme. FIRAS is the mark of endorsement of competency in the installation of fire products and systems.

The National Fire Sprinkler Network supports this system, in principle, and has invited us to introduce this type of system to their members.

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA), has recently shown interest in this type of system and have requested clarification with regards to its specification.

In homes 

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

In historic or listed buildings 

Traditionally fire protection of historic buildings has been largely based on structural fire protection, such as fire resisting walls, floors and ceilings and fire doors (with self closing devices).

Alternative protection, which could see the reduction of traditional fire protection, may be achieved by adopting a sprinkler system.

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

In houses in multiple occupation 

Around 600 lives are lost each year to fire. The majority of these are likely to happen in rented accommodation and in particular Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). A fire risk assessment should be carried out for all HMOs and prevention should be the primary consideration.

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

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

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

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

Asset Protection Sprinkler system

If you are interested in the Asset Protection Sprinkler system and would like further information please contact our Business Fire Safety team.

Asset Protection Sprinkler system leaflet

All other sprinkler enquiries

  • Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Business Fire Safety 
    • Leigh Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire. SO50 9SJ
    • Tel: 023 9285 5180 


  • British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association
    • Richmond House, Broad Street, ECB7 4AH 
    • Tel 01353 659187, Fax 01353 666619


  • National Fire Sprinkler Network