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Thu 10 December 2015
From 1st January 2016, Building Regulations covering construction of all new residential properties in Wales will change. It will become mandatory to have a water fire sprinkler system installed. This new requirement will have to comply with BS 9251 : 2014.
All rooms, hallways, landings and larger cupboards (over 2 m. sq.) will be required to have sprinkler heads installed. These are likely to be flush fittings, with a cover to blend in with ceiling finishes, and which would fall away at the outbreak of a fire. The sprinkler head will be automatically activated by a fire at 68 degrees. Each sprinkler activated will have to have the capacity to discharge 49 litres of water per minute, therefore, the whole of the dwelling will not be affected by water damage, if the fire was contained in one part of the building.
The system can be mains water generated, but the water authority may not be able to guarantee the water pressure to meet requirements set out in British Standards. Therefore, a water storage tank and pump system may be required, resulting in higher installation costs.
A separate electrical supply, taken from the electrical installation between the meter position and RCD consumer control unit, would be required. This is to ensure that the pump would operate if the consumer control unit was cut out by the fire.
How much is this going to cost? Time will tell, but for a mains water operated system, early estimates start from £1500 for a small flat/maisonette. A pumped system for a 3/4 bedroom house will be significantly higher, but the cost is secondary if lives are saved.
This can only be a good thing and it will be interesting to see if there is any reduction in building insurance premiums as a result of this new legislation.
At present this regulation will only apply to Wales, but, like the plastic bag tax, other parts of the U.K. may follow!
Michael Edwards MRICS FNAEA FCIOB
Chairman of McCartneys LLP Survery & Planning Department
Michael can be contacted on 01544 230316 if you require more information on any of the above.