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A Cost Comparison Study of Fire Suppression Systems.


Lubrizol Advanced Materials have commissioned this study to compare the cost and programme implications of using a BlazeMaster CPVC fire protection system as an alternative to traditional steel systems in United Kingdom new-build construction.

It is assumed for the purpose of this study that BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems offer significant commercial benefit to both installer and investor without compromising on quality, design-life or regulatory compliance.

The methodology outlined hereunder was followed to challenge the assumption by providing a like-for-like cost and programme comparison between BlazeMaster CPVC and generic steel systems. The study explores the primary cost drivers of each material solution whilst also considering local influences and factors (eg. availability and cost of labour, impact of local regulatory frameworks etc).

Approach to the Study

The methodology outlined hereunder was followed to provide a like-for-like cost and programme comparison between BlazeMaster CPVC fire suppression system and generic steel fire suppression system:

  • A multi-occupancy building of 11 storeys was used as a representative sample.

  • The building housed 88 number one and two bedroom tenement units.

  • The fire suppression systems are “designed-in” the build.

  • Tendered unit rates for BlazeMaster CPVC and Steel were obtained from Contract Bills of Quantities (BoQ) and used as a basis for pricing and comparison.

  • UK Sprinklers Limited were engaged by Lubrizol to establish the productivity and programme implications for steel which was derived from their previous project experience and in-house benchmark data.

  • A total cost was calculated which included the supply and installation of the sprinkler systems as well as the potential cost implications for Main Contractor Time Related Preliminaries if fire suppression works were on the critical path.

Limitations of Analysis

This evaluation methodology has its limitations and does not take into consideration the uniqueness of the construction project, which will impact the findings of this report and affect the direct comparison between BlazeMaster CPVC and generic steel fire suppression system. This may include but is not limited to the following:

  • Location

  • Number of crews deployed for fire suppression system installation

  • Magnitude, shape, buildability and complexity of the building project

  • Access constraints

  • Supply chain capacity and availability of labour, plant and materials

  • Skills of available labour

  • Programming and critical path

  • Structural design – Frame and floor cassettes

This study has been based on data and information specific to the United Kingdom (UK) which was current at Q4 2019. Our analysis does not consider any future inflationary pressures, changes in legislation, changes in manufacturing costs, regional price variances or the like which may have an impact on the supply and installation of BlazeMaster CPVC or generic steel systems.

No specific consideration is given to the life cycle costs of each material component.

Our analysis does not consider the cost and / or the programme impact for associated trades for example decoration, joinery, final fix electrical. This report provides a direct comparison against BlazeMaster CPVC and generic steel as fire suppression only.

Summary of Findings

The evaluation contained within the body of this report demonstrates that BlazeMaster CPVC is considerably quicker and easier to install compared to generic steel. Time on site is heavily reduced and workmanship errors largely eradicated.

BlazeMaster CPVC hence provides a more cost-effective alternative to traditional steel.

The magnitude of the potential saving is largely driven by a consolidation of shorter overall installation duration and lower cost per linear metre of product. The reduced plant requirements for installing BlazeMaster CPVC also contributes to a reduction in cost however this is less significant.

In summary, the BlazeMaster CPVC sprinkler solution offers a cost-saving £37,400 or 25% less than the equivalent generic steel system. Both systems fully comply to BS 9251: 2005; sprinkler systems for residential and domestic occupancies.

Summary Cost Comparison


Object 1-3


Reduction in product costs of £14,663.83 or 24.3 (equivalent to a reduction per tenement unit of average £166.62 including public and service areas).

  • Reduction in product cost is a significant contribution to total savings.

  • General product cost of BlazeMaster CPVC is cheaper however the components of note include; Rapid Seal (Tyco) and Insta Seal (Viking).


Reduction in labour costs of £20,264.42 or 24.50 (equivalent to reduction in required installation time of 325 man hours or 2.7 weeks assuming an installation team of 3 operatives).

  • Reduction in labour costs is a primary driver.

  • Reduction in labour cost due to reduction in installation times. Solvent welding techniques contribute significant time savings.


Reduction in plant costs of £2,472.75 or 82.10%

  • Reduction in plant cost associated with BlazeMaster CPVC installation techniques (solvent welds removes the need for welding and pneumatic thread / grooving machinery).

  • Reduction in material handling equipment costs, due to reduced weight of the BlazeMaster CPVC system over the traditional steel equivalent (no need for pipe trolleys and winches / rigging equipment).

  • Elimination of work face access equipment associated with traditional steel pipework finishing e.g. surface priming and painting.

Furthermore, based upon the research conducted for this report, the following arise as additional key project benefits by using BlazeMaster CPVC:

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Occupied buildings can be retrofitted without the need to decant occupants

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Reduction of noise on site

3 copy-01

Does not require electricity during installation process

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Improved sustainability scores (cradle to cradle recyclability)

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Reduction of embodied carbon during production cycle

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Health and Safety benefits associated to plant, lifting and hot-works

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Optimum hydraulic capability allows reduced pipe diameter

What is CPVC?

Chlorinated PolyVinyl Chloride technology was pioneered by Lubrizol Corporation (the manufacturers of BlazeMaster CPVC used in this study). BlazeMaster CPVC is reliable and offers the user a series of perceived benefits when compared to the generic steel systems available.

BlazeMaster CPVC is widely regarded as a domestic and residential product. The quick and low disruption installation makes BlazeMaster CPVC a cost-effective system that can be adopted for both new-build and retrofit projects.

BlazeMaster CPVC is non-corrosive and is recognised as environmentally superior to the generic steel alternatives.

Since 1984, BlazeMaster CPVC has continued to impact the fire suppression industry. Fully accordance with BS 9251: 2014 the BlazeMaster CPVC is certified for use across all domestic and residential hazard categories (in addition to selected commercial categories of NFPA 13 – National Fire Protection Association), BlazeMaster CPVC systems are becoming the “go-to” fire sprinkler system for specifiers and installers.



Single family dwellings such as: A)

Individual dwelling house

Individual flat

Individual maisonette

Transportable home

Houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) A) B)

Bed and Breakfast accomodation A) B)

Boarding houses A) B)

Blocks of flats 18m or less in height and with a maximum total floor area of 2,400m2 A) B)


Blocks of flats greater than 18m in height D) Small residential care premises with ten residents or fewer

Sheltered and extra care housing D)


Residential care premises with more than ten residents

Dormitories (e.g. attached to educational establishments)



A) If any of these buildings permanently house vulnerable people (see 3.31), this should be taken into account in determining the building category (see 4.5).

B) Buildings with more than two floors and five or more lettable bedrooms should be treated as Category 2.

C) Where the fire strategy requires the commnal rooms and corridors to be sprinkler protected, or where the total floor area is greater than 2,400 m2, then the building should be treated as Category 2.

D) Where the fire strategy requires the communcal rooms and corridors to be sprinkler protected, then the building should be treated as Category 3.

Commercial Comparison

A commercial cost comparison was carried out between the cost of BlazeMaster CPVC and generic steel fire suppression systems based on standard UK construction practices. The main commercial factors have been calculated on a first principles basis (i.e. build-up of labour, plant & materials costs etc.), whilst reflecting the additional impacts of working in the United Kingdom (i.e. local market rates, local installation norms etc.).


Summary Cost Comparison

The following table provides the summary of the key cost drivers:


Object 1-3


As can be seen from the above table & graph the cost of the BlazeMaster CPVC solution (and associated supports & consumables) are £37,400 or 25.00% less expensive than the steel equivalent.

BlazeMaster CPVC is the most cost effective and commercially advantageous system for the sample new build.

Commercial Review Detailed

The following sections identify the detailed cost analysis associated with the key cost drivers of each system (materials, labour and plant).


Materials Cost Summary

Local market quotations were acquired for both the BlazeMaster CPVC and steel pipework & fittings. These material prices were combined with the respective material take offs as provided by UK Sprinklers Limited. The costs for supports and miscellaneous consumables associated with required installation procedures for each of the respective solutions are included.

The following table provides a summary of the respective direct material costs for each solution:


Materials Value Summary Comparison


Object 2


As can be seen from the above table the direct materials cost ofd the BlazeMaster CPVC solution (and associated supports & consumables) are £14,663.83 or 24.30% less expensive than the steel equivalent.


Labour / Installation Requirements

For the purpose of this comparison study the labour rates have been calculated from the basis of local market practices/productivity rates.

The blended labour rates have been based upon typical installation crew costs (including site supervision, skilled, semi-skilled, and non-skilled staff) divided by the productive ratio for the trade concerned. The rate is inclusive of an allowance for general builder’s works required to complete the install and for supervision staff that are not covered by any prelims.

Reduced Labour costs are a primary driver contributing a saving of £20,265

Labour Cost / Time Summary

Labour rates / time allowances have been combined with the respective take-offs as provided by UK Sprinklers Limited.

The following table provides a summary of the respective direct labour installation costs and time for each solution:


Labour Graph


Object 4


As can be seen from the above table the labour installation cost of the BlazeMaster CPVC solution (and associated supports) is £20,264.42 or 24.50% less expensive than the steel equivalent and requires 580 or 33.7% less man-hours to install.


Plant Cost

UK Sprinklers Limited has prepared plant cost allowances based on the requirements of the associated installation practices for each solution and the requirements of installation crews. These rates have been combined with the respective man-hour estimates from the above section to calculate the required durations the items of plant are required for the installation procedures of the respective material solutions, associated supports and other miscellaneous works (e.g. painting).

The following table provides a summary of the respective direct plant costs and time for each solution:


Object 5


As can be seen from the above table the associated plant cost of the BlazeMaster CPVC solution (and associated supports) is £2,747.75 or 86.10% less expensive than the steel equivalent.

BlazeMaster CPVC is proven to be £37,400.00 cheaper than the generic steel alternative.


BlazeMaster CPVC fire suppression systems are understandably growing in popularity in the UK. As the market is heavily weighted in favour of retrofit, the installation benefits of BlazeMaster CPVC become a principle driver when specifying a system.

However, the findings of this report conclude that BlazeMaster CPVC also commercially out-performs generic steel systems in new-build project environments. Delivering overall cost savings in excess of 25%, BlazeMaster CPVC offers comparable quality, life expectancy and performance to generic steel at a significantly lower price.

It is assumed that the percentage of commercial gain would increase proportionately on larger schemes.

The following details the key drivers behind the commercial, technical and other associated benefits for the use of BlazeMaster CPVC systems:



  • Reduced labour cost associated with the quicker installation time.

  • Reduced product cost due to the cheaper manufacturing and distribution costs and subsequently cheaper retail costs of BlazeMaster CPVC.

  • Reduction in consumables costs associated with BlazeMaster CPVC “solvent-weld” jointing systems and innovations such as Rapid-Seal and Insta Seal.

  • Reduced plant and material handling costs.

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  • Reduced installation complexity due to there being no requirement for traditional welding and BlazeMaster CPVC jointing innovation.



  • Reduced labour numbers required on site due to the reduced complexity and time required.

  • Health and safety benefits as there is less lifting and no requirement for a hot works permit.

  • Reduced pipework sizes due to the hydraulic performance or “C” factor of the BlazeMaster CPVC system, this results in savings from ancillary items such as values, plants and system flushing / cleaning.