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Study determines cost effectiveness of fire sprinklers for larger warehouses

A three-year study conducted independently by BRE Global and commissioned by the Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA1), which has determined sprinklers as a cost effective investment for warehouses, will be launched in the House of Commons,

One in five warehouses in England, approximately 621 premises, will have a fire requiring the attendance of fire fighters each year.

The total annual cost to the UK economy of fires in English warehouses without fire sprinklers is £232 million. 

The study looked at the whole-life cost benefit analysis for fire sprinkler installation in three ranges of warehouse sizes. 

Key findings from the BRE study include:

  • The whole life2 costs for warehouse buildings larger than 2,000m2 (around half a football pitch in size) with fire sprinklers are on average 3.7 times lower than ones without them
  • Fire sprinklers were, on average, not cost-effective in warehouses with an area below 2,000m2 
  • Environmental benefits from sprinklers include a reduction in CO2 emissions from fire, reduced size of fire and reduced quantities of water used to fight fire
  • Only 20% of warehouses between 2,000 and 10,000m2 are fitted with fire sprinklers. For warehouses above 10,000m2, the estimated fraction with fire sprinklers is 67%
  • If all warehouses above 2,000m2 were fitted with sprinklers, the annual saving to businesses in England could be up to £210m.

The research will be launched in the House of Commons alongside a new study on the financial and economic impact of warehouse fires from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

BRE director of Fire Science and Building Products Dr Debbie Smith said: “Despite a year-on-year decrease in the number of commercial fires, the estimated annual cost of these fires is rising along with related societal and environmental impacts. This project has broken new ground in terms of evaluating these broader sustainability impacts of fire in warehouses and demonstrating that, on average, sprinklers can be shown to deliver a net benefit.”

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