Choose your location:
By: BlazeMaster EMEA on Jul 11, 2023 7:31:00 AM
Print/Save as PDF

Are Retrofit Fire Sprinklers ‘Cost-Effective’ In High-Rise Buildings?

As the debate rages on in the UK about how to best implement effective fire protection measures, a report by the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA), originally published in 2012, is proving to be more relevant than ever.

The report follows the retrofit of fire sprinkler systems into Callow Mount - a 1960s multi-storey tower block in Sheffield. It seeks to provide the industry with a broader base of knowledge and expertise in retrofitting fire sprinklers, along with information on the associated costs and benefits of a retrofit project.  

Let's look at the key findings behind this report.

Installation costs were lower than first estimated

From the outset, the project plan was to show that the retrofit of a fully comprehensive BlazeMaster® Fire Protection System into an unprotected, older, high-rise social housing block can be both cost-effective and practical.

It took approximately one day per-flat to complete the installation of the 47-flat tower block. The piping material of choice throughout the project was CPVC, which was first commercialised by Lubrizol nearly 60 years ago. Significant cost-savings were therefore made during installation, as only one man is needed per section to install CPVC pipes and fittings.

The overall cost of installation across the 47-flat tower block equated to a total of £55,134, or approximately £1,150 per flat. The total included the cost of all components used (£19,055), labour costs (£26,890) and establishment, which included survey work, meeting with residents, training and administration (£9,189).

Chief Fire and Rescue Advisor, Sir Ken Knight, told delegates on the launch of the BAFSA report: "It is really encouraging to see the sector rising to the challenge to show retro-fitting sprinklers isn't as costly as previously thought."

A more practical experience

A large part of the challenge of this project was to test the possible nuisances caused during a retrofit and how this would shape future installations.

It was agreed that the 47 residents would remain in occupation throughout the entire installation. If a system could be retrofitted into a completely occupied block, then this would provide evidence that concerns over practicality for fire sprinkler retrofits were entirely unjustified.

Although this was a challenge, there was little doubt about the practicality of retrofitting a CPVC sprinkler system, provided the right product and material was used. Using CPVC eradicated any need for cutting or welding equipment, or any noisy threading machines. Installers could make necessary adjustments on-site by cutting the piping to the exact measurement needed.

On completion of the project, Sheffield Homes Health and Safety Manager, Gary Lund said, “The feedback from the residents has been absolutely remarkable. The time it has taken to do the full installation in all 47 flats has been incredible.”

Wholesome protection leads to wholesome cost savings

Estimates by the Chief Fire Officers Association in 2008 established that of the total economic costs of fire in the UK (£8.3bn), £3.3bn could be attributed to the consequential costs of fire, including property damage, lost business and the loss to the economy from death and injury.

An average of 150,000 new residential premises are built each year. Fitting each of them with a fire protection system would cost around £300 million — a small fraction of the estimates for the overall cost of fire on the economy.

The greater number of residents potentially requiring medical attention and/or police assistance in high-rise buildings makes for a greater impact on blue light services. There is thus a pressing need to ensure the safety of residents before emergency services are ever called upon.

The Fire Protection Association, which represents the views of fire insurers, also claims: “Insurers will be certain to take a more favourable view of firms whose premises have approved sprinkler systems. It’s also likely that the self-insurance element of a fire insurance policy (the ‘policy excess’) will be much lower for sprinklered buildings.”

Contact Us

The cost advantages of BlazeMaster CPVC piping

With an emphasis on practicality and saving short- and long-term costs, the Callow Mount retrofit project is just one of many instances in which CPVC piping was the appropriate material of choice for installers to protect residents.

It’s important to remember, however, that not all orange pipe is the same, so be confident that you are choosing the right system by learning about the ways in which BlazeMaster CPVC pipes and fittings have saved costs on previous installations.

Download our 2018 cost-saving report today and make an informed decision before your next installation.

Download the Cost-Savings Report