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Sprinklers

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service supports the installation of all Automatic Water Suppression Systems (AWSS) in our drive to support our commitment to Safer Communities, Safer Firefighters.

AWSS include both water sprinkler and water mist systems.

Our staff are committed to increasing AWSS ownership in both legislative and advisory capacities in all types of premises, both commercial and private. We will continue to work in partnership with all interested parties in the research, development and installation of new and innovative systems to protect:

  • Life
  • Property
  • Heritage
  • The environment

from the effects of fire.

Each application for sprinkler installation will be based upon its merits on a case by case basis. The use of sprinklers does not remove the need for other fire precautions such as an effective fire alarm system or passive fire resisting features such as fire walls and fire doors.

AWSS Facts

  • AWSS are used more than any other fixed fire protection system;
  • Over 40 million are fitted worldwide each year;
  • AWSS systems have been proven in use for well over 100 years;
  • Possibly the oldest in Britain was fitted in 1812 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London;
  • The system (in its updated form) is still in use today;
  • Losses from fires in buildings protected with AWSS are estimated to be 1/10 of those in unprotected buildings;
  • 99% of fires were controlled by AWSS sprinklers alone;
  • 60% of fires were controlled by the spray from no more than 4 AWSS sprinkler heads;

How Do AWSS Work?

All areas of the building to be protected are covered by a grid of pipes with sprinklers fitted into them at regular intervals. Water from a tank via pumps or the town’s mains (if it can give enough flow) fill the pipes.

Each AWSS sprinkler head will open when it reaches a specific temperature and spray water onto a fire. Only the sprinklers affected by the fire operate. All others remain closed. This limits any damage to areas where there is an actual fire and reduces the amount of water used.

AWSS sprinkler heads are generally spaced (usually on the ceiling) so that if one or more operate there is always a sufficient flow of water. The flow is calculated to ensure there is sufficient water to control a fire. Factors considered include size of the compartment, construction, goods stored and the general use of the building.

Different AWSS systems are used for different buildings, ie:

  • domestic/flats
  • houses in multiple occupation/hostels/residential/nursing care
  • schools/educational
  • industrial/storage

While AWSS sprinklers have been used for the protection of commercial properties such as factories, warehouses and department stores for over 130 years, there is now a growing recognition of their effectiveness in improving levels of life safety in other types of buildings. The latest version of Approved Document B (in support of the Building Regulations) incorporates clear recognition of the value of sprinklers in improving levels of safety for occupants as well as preventing the spread of fire.

Other developments have demonstrated the value of sprinklers in providing additional levels of safety to firefighters in large, complex structures or in buildings where the fire load is excessive. With the latest fast response sprinkler heads there is clear evidence that, even in the compartment of origin in a fire, occupants of sprinklered buildings enjoy a significant additional measure of life safety.

There is a growing consensus that sprinklers offer a highly cost effective way of reducing the UK’s fire death toll and are an accepted life safety measure. Their positive effect can often be most clearly seen when considering that it is often the most vulnerable members of our society who die in fires – the very young, the very old, the disabled or infirm as well as those who use drugs or alcohol unwisely. Sprinklers can especially benefit these groups, as well as society in general through less fires/deaths/injuries.

In the cases of social housing, care premises, houses in multiple occupation and many similar properties there are now clear arguments that AWSS sprinklers offer a greatly improved chance of preventing deaths should a fire occur. Sprinklers also protect the building itself by reducing the fire size and severity. This improves business continuity for many premises, including schools as well as reducing environmental damage to the surrounding area.


Should you wish to install an Automatic Water Suppression System in your home or commercial premises then in the first instance please contact the Technical Fire Safety Section, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, Summergroves Way, Hessle, HU4 7BB, telephone number 01482 565333.

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