Sprinkler / Suppression Systems

sprinkler suppression

Sprinklers can help both Businesses and Private homes, by reducing the impact of a fire. 

Sprinklers are the most effective way to ensure that fires are suppressed or even extinguished before the fire service can arrive. They save lives and reduce injuries, protect firefighters who attend incidents and reduce the amount of damage to both property and the environment from fire. In the UK there has been no loss of life in properties where fire sprinklers have been installed, this includes both commercial and residential premises.

*Please see our full service Position Statement on Automatic Fire Suppression Systems service 

In this section on Sprinkler Systems, we aim to highlight the impact a fire has on your business, identify the benefits of a sprinkler system in your business (How it works) and dispel some of the myths around sprinkler systems.

Fire cost to a business

Any disruption to a business and a fire breaking out is a disaster wherever they occur, which means it can certainly be a disaster for a business. Whether your business premises is full of computers or furniture, paperwork or clothing, a fire can have devastating and long reaching effect in many ways, and not just financially. Here, we are going to look at what those costs can be and why you should always, always be prepared in case of a fire.

Loss of Life

Fire Safety Legislation and technology has stepped in and provided a better way to keep buildings safe and protect life. Research identifies Sprinklers as key to life and property protection, when operated Sprinklers extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasions.

Customers Loss

A fire in the workplace can see a business close for an extensive period of time. The clean-up operation, which can involve re-building in some cases and time while insurance claims are met. The businesses you supply are still operating and data shows the potential for customer loss following a major factor, that in many cases is never regained. A disruption in the supply chain denting customer confidence in your resilience as a business playing a major part in this.


A fire within the business setting can see staff; in the worst case losing their jobs, if the business is closed for extended time periods finding other employment, however also it can put off staff from coming into work, as returning into work environment after a fire has damaged the business is not ideal for anyone, and it can certainly have a negative impact on morale, which can, in turn, affect productivity.

Damage to building

Structural damage is a very real risk when a fire breaks out. Depending on the severity of the fire, the building could be considerably weakened and structural elements beyond repair. Your building may need to be assessed before you and your employees can return to work.

Equipment damage

Fire-damaged equipment is almost always unsavable and beyond economical repair.  Thinking about the equipment you require to operate and if lost how much would this effect you to replace the damaged equipment.

Damage to physical documents

Computers and gadgets aren’t the only vital parts of an office. Documentation is crucial, and if these documents were lost to a fire how would that effect your business. From patient records at hospitals to contracts and financial records, all of these things contain vitally important information and the loss of them can be disastrous.


This can run into many thousands of pounds, wages, increased insurance premiums to identity just a few. However, if a business is found to be in breach of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 then the Fire Authority may look to take more formal action. This can include large fines to the Responsible Person


*Please see our Your Safety – Business Safety sections, with guidance, templates and further information on how to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 


How a Sprinkler System Works

how it works Sprinkler Suppression Systems

Once a fire has started the most efficient way to extinguish it is by removal of the heat by cooling, water being the favoured method.

The fire sprinkler system is simply a network of piping filled with either water from the normal main supply or from a fire pump and tank. This may be seen or hidden by ceiling tiles

sprinkler head and pipes Sprinkler Suppression Systems

* The British Standard identifies requirements based on risk.

illustration of fire sprinkler head Sprinkler Suppression Systems

The Fire  sprinkler heads seen here are connected to the pipe work in the areas to be protected and are heat activated. The sprinkler head above the fire will actuate.

 In 98% of cases fires are extinguished by the actuation of just one sprinkler head.

Should a fire be more severe and spreads quickly then the next closest sprinkler head will actuate when the required temperature is reached.

Alongside this, when a fire starts the resulting smoke will normally actuate a smoke detector to warn any occupants of the fire giving people the chance to escape before the fire grows and the Sprinkler System actuates.

The heat from the fire rises up to the ceiling and on reaching a sprinkler head and that sprinkler head is actuated. The temperature required depends on the type of sprinkler head installed but is usually between 68 -74 degrees.


myths and facts Sprinkler Suppression Systems


 All our sprinklers will go off every time someone burns the toast, damaging my stock and buildings.


Fire sprinklers are NOT triggered by smoke and do NOT all go off together despite what is shown in movies and TV advertising. Each sprinkler head is set to operate individually, and it will only be triggered to spray water onto a fire when it reaches its predetermined operating temperature.

If a fire does start in your business, only the sprinklers in the immediate area of the fire will open – all the others remain closed. Don’t believe the Hollywood action films that show the hero flooding an entire building by holding a lighter to a single sprinkler, it just doesn’t happen in real life!


Sprinklers are unreliable, aren’t they?


No, they are very reliable: accidental discharge due to manufacturing defects is estimated at 1 in 14million (per year of service). LPC (UK) statistics)


Sprinklers are hugely expensive, I can’t afford them.


Actually, the costs of installing sprinklers works as roughly equivalent to carpeting the same building in new buildings. In UK business properties you can expect to pay in the region of £1.39–£1.85 per square foot to install fire sprinklers (for light to ordinary hazard). Business Sprinkler Alliance


Sprinklers are ugly and will spoil the look of my building


Modern sprinklers can be specially designed to meet your needs and are compact and elegant. The public will often be unaware that sprinklers are fitted, with miniature sprinklers (about the size of a 50p piece) available, which can be fitted with ceiling rosettes and painted to match your colour scheme. Concealed sprinklers are almost invisible – they’re recessed, flush with the ceiling, and covered by a flat plate (ideal for clean areas, areas with restricted headroom, or where vandalism is a potential problem).

In fact, including sprinklers in the specification for an unconventional or unusual building design can often offer design freedoms while still achieving Building Regulations compliance cost-effectively.

Sprinklers may also mean that you can reduce the amount of visible, portable fire-fighting equipment that you need to have.


 I’ve got all my fire protection in place, it’ll never happen to me…


Around 12,000 fires a year are caused by damaged, faulty or misused electrical appliances. Faulty electrics covers a variety of potential fire hazards including loose cables, damaged electrics and improper use causing overheating caused by electrical distribution and other electrical appliances

And, while you think you might not be a target for arson, Arson accounted for 50.5% of all fires attended in 2017/18 by Fire & Rescue Services in the whole of the United Kingdom (213,782 fires attended; 108,024 deliberate). of these in premises including industrial and retail buildings and schools.


Sprinklers only use water – my business has specialist requirements that mean water can’t be used on a fire.


Sprinklers can now be foam enhanced, to control flammable liquid, chemical and petroleum fires.


Automatic Fire Suppression Systems



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To find out more on our business advice:

View our guidance documents.