You Now Need A Fire Sprinkler for Residential Living Over 11 Metres High

Now the consultation of the Building Regulations (ADB) has been concluded, the Government instructs sprinkler systems to be installed on residential buildings of 11 metres or higher. 

fire sprinkler on a white ceiling

The Government have its plans for new building regulations which are called the biggest shake-up. One of the changes contained within this legislation.

Soon to come into effect regards the installation of fire sprinklers. It will mean that it will become a need for buildings 11m or above in height to carry sprinklers. This follows on from the consultation that began in September 2019.

We talk about other home safety products such as fire extinguishers or fire escape ladders elsewhere, but on this page, we discuss sprinkler systems.

Understand the New Regulations

The Government is proposing to apply its safety regulations to all residential buildings. Or if a building contains more than six storeys.

A new Safety Regulator will be given to who has a duty to keep the scope of the regulatory system under review. Providing advice to the Government when the evidence points to the need for it to be extended.

The new structures apply for the new-build flats, then extend to the occupation of existing buildings. Also, a new regime placing responsibility on those designing and constructing buildings.

This will be to help explain how they are managing risks. Whilst demonstrating that the building is safe for occupation.

This presents considerations by architects, as some will not have had to factor in the concept of sprinklers. Designers will need a specialist, who makes sure that the sprinklers are in the correct areas.

fire sprinkler and a smoke alarm next to each other

Consider Which Rooms Require Sprinklers

All rooms need to have sprinklers, as well as any shared spaces. Yet, this need alters when the space of each room into account. For example, this ruling does not have to be met if a bathroom has an internal floor area of less than 5m2.

The same is for cupboards and pantries with a floor area under 2m2. Finally, buildings such as garages that are fire-separated from a building are exempt.

Consider the Water Supply

In line with the sprinkler system, a building’s water supply needs consideration. A residential sprinkler will usually be a wet pipe system which is a system charged with water.

Mains or stored water supply are the two potential sources for the supply. So it would need figuring out if you were taking a ‘mains’ or ‘storage’ approach right near the start of the project.

The main system is usually the preference because it eliminates the need to create any space for a storage tank. Yet, there are some scenarios where it will not be as suitable.

To get yourself on track, it is wise to check the relevant water authority to understand how it stands. The best solution is to ask your water company about available pressures and flows. Something else to check with them is the reliability of water supplies.

Water companies are only required to provide 1 bar pressure and 9 litres/min flow. yet, for perspective, sprinklers need less than 0.5 bar after pipe losses and less than 40 litres/min flow.

Usually, a block of flats under 18m high, with a floor area under 2400m2. It is going to be a Category 1 system listed in British standards. although sometimes Category 2 due to requirements about fire strategy.

council flats grouped together somewhere in London

It will be helpful to note that typical small specifications for these are a nominal flow rate of no less than 40 litres/min. Small operating pressure at any sprinkler head of 0.5 bar.

Keep in mind that the pressure will need to be higher for any system losses, there is a good chance that a small 32mm-diameter supply pipe is needed. Or a separate fire main if a 32mm-diameter pipe is not available.

In the event, sprinklers fail due to pressure or flow. The likely outcome will be an investigation looking at whether you made all efforts about the reliability and capacity.

You may choose for a large tank that has enough capacity to supply for the running of your time, or a smaller tank with inflow from service pipes. A system must provide automatic mains infilling but the tank capacity can reduce by up to 60 per cent. Whichever option, it must be able to provide the sprinklers demand for the sprinkler time.

sprinkler and smoke alarm next to each other

To read more guides like this, go to the Home Safety section

About The Author

Reece Thompson: Reece has been involved in property in one way or another for the past 10 years. He’s gained a lot of experience when it comes to the home, kitchen and garden. He shares his knowledge with enthusiasm and honesty.