A Clear and Constant Message

A Clear and Constant Message

Exhibitors were also pleased with the number of enquiries received and first time attendee, Balmoral Tanks expressed themselves as ‘highly satisfied’ with an intention to book space at Fire Sprinkler International London 2014.

Reflecting on the extent and depth of the topics covered at the UK’s only event devoted to fire sprinklers, British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association Chairman Peter Armstrong said he was delighted: ‘The quality of the papers delivered was excellent and the interest shown by the delegates contributed to a general agreement that Fire Sprinkler 2012 was a great success’.

Keynote speaker, Stewart Kidd, International Consultant and BAFSA’s Secretary General delivered a highly personal and hard hitting view. After more than 35 years in the fire industry he challenged his audience to explain why although the Government says that it recognises that sprinklers are an effective way of controlling fires, protecting lives and property it does not consider that they are necessarily the only or most cost effective option for every application?  He asked whether other parts of Building Legislation are subject to the same test and provocatively wondered whether the Fire Safety Order was as cost effective as its Regulatory Impact Assessment suggested.

Stewart demonstrated his belief that, contrary to recent statements from DCLG , that proof can be found to support his contention that sprinklers are the answer to protecting vulnerable lives and preventing the loss of vital national assets. England continues not to.

Chris Enness, DCFO Staffs F&RS and CFOA Sprinkler Lead put the government on notice that if legislation does not change regarding mandatory installation of sprinklers in residential domestic properties hundreds will die. His comments and contents of his presentation were as a direct response to the results of a research project undertaken by BRE, on behalf of CFOA, entitled An Updated Cost Benefit Analysis Review.

Chris had already been quoted as saying ÔÇ£This latest BRE report has some significant new findings which can be used to support the case for sprinklers in certain types of buildings. The report proves that existing approaches are insufficient and so we challenge the Government to take this on boardÔÇØ.

In a time of economic austerity the subject of cost-effective sprinkler technologies was bound to generate interest and the presentation from Russ Kirby of FM Global did not disappoint.  Delegates learnt how advances in sprinkler head design t have improved the levels of protection which can be provided in warehouses and other large single storey buildings.  In particular, FM’s exhaustive test and research programme demonstrated the cost-benefits of extended coverage sprinkler systems and the possibility that in-rack sprinkler heads (disliked by many end users for their impact on available storage space) can be eliminated in some situations. 

The evolving legacy of the 2011 Callow Mount Retrofit project was considered by Steve Seaber, who managed the project for BAFSA. The points presentation, developed jointly by Steve and Simon Rooks, BAFSA’s marketing committee chair, looked to the present and planned take-up of sprinkler projects as well as the widespread interest from fire and housing sectors and the positive response to the Callow Mount report which is now used as an exemplar to support local campaigns.

This presentation concluded with the message ÔÇ£Legislation in England may not follow but guidance should reflect research findings!ÔÇØ

Sustainability, Modern Methods of Construction, and insurance issues – is there a role for sprinklers? This was the title of Dr Jim Glockling’s paper. Although Technical Director of the Fire Protection Association this was delivered from the insurer’s perspective through the work of the RISC Authority. Sustainable buildings and modern materials used in construction are meaning more breaches of the fire compartment and a greater effort is required in making good. Dr Glockling made good use of an 2011 FPA Report Building, Design and Management: Fire in timber frame buildings which appears to confirm that insurers’ concerns about the losses being reported in lightweight timber frame buildings (LTF) . Data from the US and UK supports the concerns that fires in LTF building are more than twice as likely as those in conventional buildings.

In the US, fires in unprotected wood frame buildings under construction are the most frequent large loss fires, while fires in unprotected wood frame dwellings:
ÔÇó are the third most frequent large loss fires
ÔÇó account for the most frequent firefighter injuries
ÔÇó account for over half the fires that result in catastrophic multiple fire deaths
ÔÇó account for over half of all fire fatalities

Ian Gough, BAFSA’s Senior Technical Advisor expanded on Dr Glockling’s theme by explaining the general risks of fires in buildings and construction and  turned the eager audience’s attention to the subject of fire protection of buildings under construction, especially timber framed structures. He explained that during there are a number of particular fire problems relating to site evacuation; partial occupancy risks and a lack of protection for fire fighters. The UK timber frame industry is, he said, rising to these challenges and a number of sites have used basic sprinkler systems to protect partially complete structures.

In a short technical session, US speaker Frank Barstow introduced a new type of fire suppression from Victaulic. Vortex is a dual fluid system using water and nitrogen to provide  water droplets of less than 10 microns in size for what is claimed is a very green, water sparse technology.  Victaulic believe that the advantages of the system which include nearly zero wetting of protected areas, quick system recharge and no need for room integrity will provide an alternative to gas suppression systems for power turbines, machinery spaces and centres..

An essential part of the day’s programme was a series of Workshops.

The first of these was facilitated by Steve Mills’ to evaluate sprinkler effectiveness. As BAFSA’s Fire & Rescue Service Coordinator has been gathering a wealth of information regarding ÔÇ£sprinkler stopsÔÇØ and presented a series of case studies and detailed reports of fires in premises with and without sprinklers. He persuasively argued the necessity for this exercise on going and also discussed the barriers to collecting such data.

One of the popular Workshops focused on Student Accommodation with Stew Adamson of Hampshire F&RS presenting 2 Case Studies where proposed developments of student accommodation had progressed from a non-sprinklered approach to fully sprinklered buildings.

A current project at Stirling University was illustrated by Danny of Central Scotland F&RS. From receipt of the planning application for 121 residences over 4 sites providing 788 bed spaces in total in January 2012 to conditional approval in April, Danny talked through the processes, parties involved and a comprehensive breakdown of the cost for the sprinkler system.

Historic Piers proved to be a very interesting Workshop. Simon Hill of Avon F&RS explained ÔÇ£The aim of this session is to highlight the fact that historic structures once lost can never be fully repaired or replace.  One of the best and most cost effective way to protect our heritage buildings from fire is to install the most appropriate automatic suppression systems so that our children can enjoy these structures/buildings long after we are gone.  Southend Pier, which has burnt 4 times in the past 60 years and is now protected by an extensive sprinkler system, was presented as Case Study by Mark Earwicker of Essex F&RS. Facilitating this workshop was Ingval Maxwell OBE, International Consultant in Architectural Conservation Fire Risks to Heritage Piers who presented a fascinating pictorial history of UK piers and a salutary message that of the original 100 piers only 58 survive with 10 piers currently at risk.

At the last minute Joe McCafferty, Tyco Fire and Integrated Systems stepped into the shoes of Martin Hartley, BAFSA Vice Chairman to facilitate a workshop on Sprinkler Maintenance issues. The clear message was that without a managed and professional approach to the servicing and maintenance of sprinkler systems there is a very real risk of loss of life and irreversible property damage not to mention prosecution. A  thorough examination of standards, technical requirements and procedures followed to demonstrate why listed sprinkler contractors are the best way to ensure that the high reliability factor of sprinklers is maintained.

The message of from BAFSA and all of the experts who gave their time to speak at Fire Sprinkler 2012 was loud and clear: ÔÇ£Sprinklers save lives, property and the environment from fireÔÇØ
For further information regarding FIRE Sprinkler 2012 presentations please go to http://www.bafsa.org.uk/resources.php

About BAFSA : The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association is the oldest UK trade association for the industry and will celebrate its fortieth birthday in 2014. It is an association of partners representing a significant majority of third-party certificated sprinkler installers as well as manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, insurers, the fire service and others with an interest in the field.