Chief fire officer calls for sprinklers

Des Prichard
Des Prichard

SPRINKLERS to save lives from fires should be put in all new builds, according to the chief fire officer East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

Des Prichard, who is also chief executive for the fire authority, has given his full support to the National Fire Sprinkler Network which is appealing for fire sprinklers to be fitted in all new-build residential properties.

The National Fire Sprinkler Network is a non-profit organisation, which works in partnership with all of the UK’s Fire & Rescue Services along with local, national and European governments. Its objective is to stop unwanted and unnecessary deaths and injuries from fires in domestic properties by having automatic fire sprinkler protection systems installed in all new-build properties.

In Wales, legislation requiring the inclusion of domestic sprinkler systems in all new-build residential properties was passed unanimously and received Royal Assent in April 2011. Now, the National Fire Sprinkler Network wants this extended to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and Des Prichard is supporting the call.

Mr Prichard said, “Fire does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone at any time and has a devastating effect on families and communities.

“However, there is a lot that can be done to minimise the risk. As well as fitting smoke alarms, installing sprinklers will ensure early intervention to control a fire until the fire service arrives.

“There needs to be serious consideration given by our politicians and house builders to introduce legislation that makes the fitting of sprinkler systems in homes mandatory, starting with new-build properties, such as what has happened in Wales.

“Automatic sprinkler systems are exceptionally effective through their ability to control a fire in its early stages, minimising the risk and damage from fire.”

The call follows a fire in Kemptown, Brighton, at the beginning of the month in which a 52 year-old man died in his flat. The body of Mark Rivers was found at the scene of the fire, which is not thought to have been suspicious.

Fire investigator Mark Hobbs also raised the benefits of sprinklers at the inquest into the deaths of the Jenkins brother who were killed in a house fire in Milfoil Drive, Eastbourne, back in October 2008.

The young boys were known to have a ‘fascination with fire’ and their playing with fire caused the fatal blaze. Mr Hobbs said previous cases had shown fitting sprinklers in homes where young fire setters lived had proved to be life-saving in other parts of the country.

An online petition has been started calling for fire sprinklers to be made compulsory in all new homes. The link is