Association News

How long is a piece of string?

How long is a piece of string?

or more importantly how big is a tower block and how much does it cost to retrofit a sprinkler system?

As an association, BAFSA wishes to express its grave concern at the lack of urgency in respect of positive action; together with technical and financial support which is available to housing providers following the unprecedented tragedy at Grenfell Tower.

BAFSA has worked tirelessly for more than forty years to ensure that automatic fire sprinklers are properly designed and installed in all types of occupancies across the United Kingdom. Our manufacturers have consistently worked to ensure that the latest innovations are included in all their designs and that these designs pass rigorous testing standards with third party accreditation bodies.

Likewise, our installer members submit their designs and completed installation to the scrutiny not only by the appropriate accreditation bodies, but also by other regulators and the insurers.

The UK sprinkler industry, through this Association has invested heavily in research to ensure we can produce evidence-based data for use by local and national governments. It was BAFSA backed research in 2011/2012 which proved that retrofitting of sprinklers in social housing was indeed feasible and cost effective.

Since then BAFSA members have worked with Councils in the UK, retrofitting some 100 of the 4000 older, high rise tower blocks.  Apart from basic construction concepts of the era (1950s,60,& 70s) these blocks are all different – ranging from 12 to 25 storeys and a varying number of bedrooms.

We know that an installation of a 1-3 bedroomed flat will cost as little as £1000 per unit with surface mounted sprinklers.

If corridors and lobbies are also sprinkler protected, up to 30 per cent may be added to the bill.

At the other end of the scale a 3 bedroomed flat, with the tenant in situ and all finishing completed by the installer may come in at £2500. Experience has shown that costs variances will be influenced by several other factors including :

  • Size and layout of unit – whilst the number of bedrooms do not change the cost dramatically, the size of the individual rooms may, although this is rare.
  • Sprinkler Alarms – in compliance with BS9251 the sprinkler indicator panel will simply show which floor the sprinkler system has activated. However, some clients prefer each flat to be separately monitored on the sprinkler panel which is considerably more expensive.
  • What other works are being completed at the same time
  • Builders’ holes and asbestos
  • Water supplies – at worst an additional £15,000
  • The overall dimensions of the block

Regardless of the complexity of the works in each block, there is another factor effecting the cost of retrofitting life saving fire sprinklers…

It is probable that not one sprinkler installer in the UK has a working framework agreement with a local authority thus installers will be required to quote  to a preferred main contractor.

One of the defining reasons our members’ figures do not match those quoted by Councils is because of main contractor mark-up which can range from a justifiable 10% up to 40% thus producing alarmist figures outside the control of the sprinkler industry.

BAFSA’S team of experts include ex UK Fire & Rescue Chiefs and Officers, together with technical experts from the sprinkler industries. They have first-hand experience of the horror of fire and in-depth knowledge as to how it can be controlled and BAFSA is offering to meet with Councils throughout the UK providing expert technical information and advice.  Email if this would be of interest to you.


WEDNESDAY 26 July 2017

BAFSA urges Government to take immediate action to promote actively retrofitting of automatic fire sprinklers in high-rise housing throughout the UK as the only effective measure to compensate for single staircases, combustible external cladding and poor standards of fire compartmentation.

BAFSA also: 

Calls for a coordinated approach to the provision of financial and technical support to ensure that all housing bodies are able to carry out this work.

Calls to ensure that housing providers only install automatic fire sprinklers to the appropriate British Standard using third party accredited installers and approved components.

Action to prevent the needless number of fire deaths in the UK continuing is needed now.

Published August 2017