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East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo
Sprinklers save lives and property

Sprinklers save lives and properties

The intervention of a sprinkler system can efficiently and effectively reduce heat, flame and smoke in a developing fire. These systems have been around for more than a century and have become more accessible for installation in commercial and residential settings.

Here is a a snapshot of the many incidents where sprinklers have saved life and property 

Three story school building

This fire occurred in a very large three storey school building, activation of the sprinkler head extinguished the fire, which was confined to the room of origin (1% of the building). 

The fire occurred at the weekend, but there were still two hundred people in the building, none were injured. 

Several animals were in the room, including a Guinea Pigs, Tortoises and Gerbils, they all survived.

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BM Three story school building

Two cars and a pool fuel fire

An intense fire developed involving two cars and a pool fuel fire.

Unfortunately this car park was situated beneath a multi storey four star hotel. Fortunately four sprinkler heads activated, suppressing the fire until fire service intervention.

 Despite the intensity of the fire, there was no disruption to the hotel or its guests.

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Two cars and a pool fuel fire

Chip pan fire

A chip pan fire occurred in  recently extended 3 storey student accommodation block and had a residential sprinkler system fitted under Building Regulations due to a reduction in the boundary separation between it and a neighbouring building.

 Fortunately the fire occurred in the part of the premises which had been fitted with sprinklers.

A fire service spokesman stated "each floor consists of bed sits serviced by 4 kitchens and out of a total of 12 kitchens only three have sprinkler protection.

Had the fire occurred in one of the unprotected rooms the outcome could of been a lot different ".

It is reported that one head activated and extinguished the fire and that the system had only been commissioned the previous week!

The accompanying photograph testifies to the effectiveness of the sprinkler system.

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Chip pan fire

Freezer fire

The fire started in a freezer unit that was positioned on the end of a crisp aisle in the food court of a very large retail store.

Fire damage was limited to 5m2 in the room of origin (ground floor) there was no fire damage beyond this. The store was approximately 1300m2 in area on the ground floor level.

The store reopened the following day which would certainly not be the case had the fire not been controlled by the suppression system, which operated and prevented the fire growing, allowing fire crews to quickly enter a smoke filling building and extinguish the small fire.

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Freezer fire

Sprinkler Saves

Read our selection of short pieces about fire incidents where sprinkler systems prevented a more serious outcome.

These cases highlight how sprinklers have the potential to limit fire damage, protect key information, minimise disruption and, most importantly, protect life.

The moment the sprinkler is activated is the moment efforts to mitigate fire development start. These systems can be installed in all kinds of commercial and residential buildings.

Cumbria’s Chief Fire Officer Ian Cartwright said: “Sprinklers are an excellent way of preventing a fire taking hold and putting it out before it has chance to spread.”


Sprinklers can cause lots of water damage if they leak    

Untrue…leaks are generally the result of vandalism and if a leak did occur it would cause no more damage than and other pipework in the building.

Sprinkler heads may accidentally activate, causing unnecessary damage   

Untrue…cigarettes, burnt toast or activated smoke alarms, will not activate a sprinkler head. Only a high temperature will activate the head.     

When activated, a sprinkler system will flood the building with water    

Untrue…only the sprinkler head nearest the fire will activate, spraying water onto the fire. This immediate intervention means that a sprinkler system typically uses only 10% of the water a responding fire crew would use.  

Sprinkler systems are expensive to install    

Untrue…The cost is often less than that of replacing carpets in a house, with the added benefit that home insurance premiums may be reduced. 

Useful links 

It has been proven that sprinklers can be effective in the rapid suppression of fires and therefore East Sussex Fire Authority is committed to reducing the impact of fire on people, property and the environment.

Latest Update :
13 October 2016
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