Will sprinklers become a requirement?

A leading insurer has called for new warehouse builds to have compulsory sprinklers following a massive surge in demand due to the pandemic.

The e-commerce boom sparked by consumer demand throughout the coronavirus disruption has seen retailers look to secure more warehouse space with an increase in taking up units of over 100,000 square feet. 

Insurer Zurich has warned that the outdated rules on sprinklers could harm the economy with an expected increase in warehouse fires. 

According to Zurich’s analysis of Home Office details in 2019/20, there was a 42% increase in warehouse blazes in England. 

Current Government guidance only recommends sprinklers in warehouses of more than 20,000 square metres.

Other European countries require sprinklers in warehouse units as small as 1,000 square metres in the Netherlands and 800 square metres in Norway.

The statistics have led to guidelines being reviewed and made compulsory in all new warehouses over 2,000 square metres.

Jonathan Dyson, NFCC Lead for Automatic Fire Suppression Systems, National Fire Chiefs Council, said: “Sprinklers are an effective part of an overall fire safety solution and can be used efficiently to improve fire safety in a range of new and existing buildings.  Due to the size, scale and use of warehouses and the potential risks these pose to firefighters responding we believe suppression coverage should be fully reviewed.

“Sprinklers are the most effective way to ensure that fires are suppressed or even extinguished before the fire service can arrive. They save lives and reduce injuries, protect firefighters who attend incidents and reduce the amount of damage to both property and the environment from fire.”

Most shockingly, firefighters in England attend an average of 336 warehouse fires every year, which is nearly one a day. 

Of the 3,400 warehouse blazes attended by fire crew since 2010, 49% did not have alarms fitted, and just 6% of those had sprinklers installed.

Zurich data claims to shows the average cost of large warehouse fires is a staggering £5.9million.

As well as the risk of structural damage to the property, it is also costly to your business operations with disruption, loss of products and machinery. 

At L Wood, we can advise you on both security and risk matters while ensuring you are covered with a comprehensive insurance package should the unexpected occur. 

Get in touch with us today to discuss your current site or a proposed additional site by calling 01274 515747 or emailing mail@lwood.co.uk.

Source: Zurich: https://www.zurich.co.uk/en/about-us/media-centre/general-insurance-news/2021/pandemic-led-e-commerce-boom-could-spark-rise-in-warehouse-blazes