A block of flats in Lichfield have been made significantly safer for residents, thanks to an innovative sprinkler installation.
The sprinklers, retrofitted through collaboration between Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and housing association Midland Heart, is the latest achievement in the service’s Community Sprinkler Project aimed at making all residential buildings of five floors or more safer, by protecting residents from domestic fires.
Fire sprinklers are widely-recognised as the single-most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in their early stages and through the Community Sprinkler Project, launched in 2016, installations have now been completed in 16 blocks across the county.
Research by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) found that sprinkler systems operate on 94% of occasions so are very reliable and when they do operate they extinguish or contain the fire on 99% of occasions. The result is sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80%, reduce property damage by 90% and substantially reduce damage to the environment from fire.
To mark National Sprinkler Week, which took place from 16 to 22 May and aims to raise awareness of the benefits of sprinkler systems, representatives from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Midland Heart and Triangle Fire Systems visited Charnwood House on Dimbles Lane. They met with a number of residents on Friday (20 May) who praised the project as the work to enhance the safety of flats has now reached completion.
Feedback that they received included: “I have been here for 13 and a half years, and always felt safe. However, these sprinkler systems have made a big difference. I would really recommend them to everybody.”
Ashley Mather, Fire Engineering and Suppression Lead for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our Community Sprinkler Project aims to have sprinklers fitted in all residential buildings of five floors or more in Staffordshire by 2026. We are well on the way to achieving this goal and our fire engineers continue to work with the owners of premises housing those most at risk in case of fire to promote the use of sprinklers.
“We are incredibly proud to support Midland Heart in ensuring the safety of their tenants through their on-going commitment to fire safety.”
Stuart Ruckledge, Fire Protection Manager for the East and West Service Delivery Groups, added: “Should a fire ever break out in the future, it will be contained to the room where it started, significantly reducing the amount damage, time and costs of repair.
“The sprinklers will help to keep people safe in this building for decades to come and it’s great to see this project being so well-received by the residents of Charnwood House.”
Following the successful collaboration, a further three Midland Heart sites in Staffordshire have also had sprinklers installed: School Court in Hednesford, Camoys Court in Stoke-on-Trent, and Bluebell Court in Lichfield, with work also beginning at Andrews House in Lichfield.
Waseem Butt, Director of Building Safety at Midland Heart, said: “The safety of our customers is at the heart of everything we do. We’re thrilled that the option of having sprinklers installed has been so well-received by residents of Charnwood House, who have been so positive in engaging with us and the fire service.
“The benefits of having the sprinklers installed further protects our residents from fire and supports our mission to enable our customers to live independently.”
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