In recent months several UK Fire & Rescue services have achieved groundbreaking progress towards the broader acceptance and adoption of automatic fire sprinklers (AFS) as the most effective defence of life and property from fire and BAFSA would like to applaud all of them for their efforts and successes.
BAFSA member, Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) for many years has presented the case that AFS protect life, reduce damage to the environment, reduce risk to firefighters, enhance business continuity, mitigate community and societal risk from fire and protect vulnerable people.
Suffolk County Councillor Colin Spence who is the Cabinet Member for the Public Protection Directorate that includes Fire and Rescue has made the promotion of AFS a political priority. He said “I believe that the case for fire sprinklers has been well and truly made. They protect lives and almost eliminate the social, economic and environmental impact of fire. And it is on these grounds that we have been working hard to convince members of Planning Committees in Suffolk to advocate for their installation in all new buildings”.
Director and Chief Fire Officer Andy Fry is a passionate supporter and actively promotes AFS at the SCC Corporate Management Team (CMT) level and with fellow Directors within SCC. As a result, the St Edmundsbury Borough Council Vision 2031 Local Plan actively promotes the early consideration and use of AFS to mitigate the community risk associated with new developments and also to specifically protect vulnerable people and the environment.
Aside from any action under Local Acts, this is the first reference we are aware of in a Local Authority document encouraging the installation of sprinklers. It is under the “Aspiration: Residents and visitors both are, and feel, safe” and includes the action to achieve the aspiration: “promote the installation of sprinkler systems in all new buildings including homes”.
BAFSA enthusiastically welcomes this latest example of a forward thinking local authority’s committment to providing the highest levels of safety for its inhabitants. St Edmundsbury is now one of a number of planning authorities who understand the benefits of automatic fire suppression, not only to protect life, but also to minimise the impact of fire on its buildings, economic activity and the environment.
On a national level CFO Andy Fry attempts to influence legislative reviews through national consultation and is a strong supporter and advocate of AFS within CFOA. Chief Fire Officer had this to say “Unfortunately progress at a national level on this issue has been frustratingly slow and, on that basis, we have been strongly committed to ensuring that proper consideration is given to the installation of sprinklers in new buildings. These simple, relatively inexpensive and highly effective systems have the potential to make an enormous contribution to improving fire safety and I am delighted that colleagues at St Edmundsbury Borough Council have recognised their important role in unlocking this potential”.
Suffolk F&RS continue to be proactive by engaging with developers to encourage them to consider installing AFS in new developments with a focus on social housing and residential care and collaborative work with the Suffolk County Council (SCC) Spatial Planning Team (Economy, Skills and Environment Directorate) to promote AFS at county planning and local council level
As part of this campaign, a low cost sprinkler pilot through two projects to provide AFS protection to accommodation used by vulnerable people in the community, including working with local sprinkler installers and with other SCC directorates and departments including Adult and Community Services and Children and Young People to encourage their consideration of the inclusion of AFS in the design of new county premises is underway.