Sprinklers installed for the most vulnerable
5th February 2014
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In November 2012 Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service started working with Yarlington Housing Group, on the potential features and benefits of installing Domestic Sprinkler Systems in some of the properties of their most vulnerable residents.

Yarlington Housing Group is a progressive and forward thinking Housing Management Group managing 9000 social properties over three counties (Devon, Dorset and Somerset) ranging from blocks of flats, bungalows and houses.

Call Reduction Officer Ian Haim from Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service said: “Yarlington Housing Group take the fire safety of all its tenants very seriously and have been very keen to work with us. They were very open to explore all aspects of what would be a new concept in domestic fire safety for them, their tenants and their properties.

“We were able to offer a partnership matched funding project for Yarlington, this entailed the service matching their installation costs for up to four properties.”

Installation of the sprinklers

Yarlington Housing Group selected four properties from their portfolio who were considered housed the most vulnerable tenants and who would benefit from an installation of a domestic sprinkler system.

The first property was a typical stone clad bungalow construction consisting of a living room, kitchen, bedroom, toilet and a spare room used for model making. Within a village community on a small estate, outside of the local Fire Service 10 minute response time.

Ian commented: “The tenant was a heavy smoker with a tendency to leave lit cigarettes in ashtrays; he was also reliant on an electric wheelchair to move around his property. If a fire were to break out he would be unable to vacate his premises in a suitable time.”

The installation took less than two days to install demonstrating that sprinklers can be a cost effective solution to not only protecting lives, but also property. Smoke alarms can save lives (by giving early warning in the event of a fire starting) but sprinklers can actually control and stop the spread of fires.

This project has supported Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Services campaign to inform, educate and promote the installation of domestic sprinklers in social housing schemes where the most vulnerable persons are housed.

Facts and Figures – the cost of fire in residential buildings

  • The average cost of a fire in a domestic property is estimated at £44,523
  • In 2011/12 380 people died as a result of fires, 287 of these occurred in residential buildings
  • Fires in residential dwellings result in more hospital casualties than fires in any other building type. In 2010/11 there were 199 casualties per 1,000 fires in residential buildings, compared to 49 per 1,000 in other buildings
  • The DCLG estimate the cost of a fire fatality at £1.65m, and the cost of a serious injury at £185,000

Facts and Figures – the benefit of fire sprinklers in residential buildings

  • It is cost-effective to install fire sprinklers in:
    • all residential care homes
    • most blocks of purpose built flats and converted flats
    • houses of multiple occupancy where there are at least six bedsit units per building
  • Fire sprinklers, on average, represent less than 1-2% of the build cost of a new home
  • Insurance premiums may be lower in residential buildings fitted with fire sprinklers – for both residents and housing providers.
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Dave B

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