Cornwall Fire Sprinklers: a case study

For some years Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service has actively promoted the use of Sprinklers in both domestic and commercial buildings.

Whilst sprinklers do not stop a fire from occurring they can control the development and subsequent size of a fire thus increasing the tenability for persons trying to escape.

Sprinklers are life safety systems that on occasion can be installed as a compensatory measure where certain fire safety measures are not possible due to the design or layout of the property.

In January 2008 Local Authority Building Control at Liskeard received detailed plans for the conversion of offices on the first and second floor to flats. In consultation with a Fire Safety Officer the plans were turned down due to concerns over the means of escape in case of fire and a site visit was requested to discuss the scheme with all parties.

In February 2008 a site meeting was held between Building Control and Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service to discuss the scheme with the applicant and it was agreed to fit domestic sprinklers as a life safety measure to contain a developing fire and protect occupants.

On Thursday 27th June 2013 crews from Liskeard Community Fire Station responded to an incident at 12-16 Fore Street, Liskeard. On arrival crews were made aware of a fire in a flat and that a neighbour had entered the flat and rescued the occupier. Crews quickly entered the flat and extinguishing a small smouldering fire which had been contained to a sofa in the lounge area.

The crews noted that a domestic sprinkler head in the lounge had activated.

The Incident Commander stated “without doubt the activation of the sprinkler head in the room of origin controlled the development of this fire, maintaining survivable conditions and protecting the life of this individual. The action of the neighbour combined with the sprinkler activation has saved life today.”