The long-awaited announcement by the government to ensure sprinkler systems are mandatory in all new high-rise blocks over 11 meters tall has been welcomed by all. However, what happens next - and how quickly - is crucial for all concerned.

The UK government recently announced an amendment to the statutory guidance to building safety regulations, known as Approved Document B, reducing the requirement for sprinkler systems from the current 30 meters to 11 meters in high-rise buildings.

New laws and measures

The Fire Safety Bill, which was introduced to Parliament in April, will also empower fire and rescue services to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they do not comply with the law.

The new measures are welcomed in the construction industry and related supply chains who have been waiting for clarity to improve the increased fire protection so badly needed.

This will help to save lives and property

In essence, this will help to save lives and property. In the event of a real fire, the need for sprinklers to help suppress the fire is crucial. Moreover, the requirement for consistent supply of power to these systems is equally important.

Seeing the detail behind it

Many buildings such as tower blocks, hospitals, schools, shopping malls, airports and those areas with large numbers of people moving rely on electrical systems which will continue to operate in a real fire and provide power, providing crucial intelligence to the fire and rescue services.

There can be no compromise in the specification of cabling which provides that power, offering fire protection of up to 120 minutes. The sooner the practical guidance can be rolled out, the sooner they can be applied and the sprinkler systems being specified now can be installed in the knowledge that all best practice has been followed in the interests of safety for all concerned.

The Institution of Fire Prevention Officers (IFPO) supports AEI Cables in the call to ensure that reliable continuous power is provided for sprinkler systems with the installation of only approved cabling for these purposes.

The tried and tested generation of AEI Cables’ fire performance cabling ensure critical fire-safety circuits can continue to operate in the event of a fire from 30 minutes up to 120 minutes and often support systems which provide vital information. The Firetec Total Fire Solutions range from AEI Cables offers enhanced fire performance cabling, accessories and technical support from one source.

Danger ‘significantly reduced’

AEI Cables’ Firetec Enhanced cabling is the only cable to be independently approved and certified by LPCB to BS8519 (Annex B) Category 3 Control for firefighting systems including sprinkler pumps, fire suppression water mist systems, water spray systems, wet riser pumps, wet riser valve and equipment monitoring under the Code of Practice.

We also welcome the Government’s move on regulation, with the decision to appoint a new organization to be known as The Building Safety Regulator, to be established under the umbrella of the HSE, responsible for enforcing a more stringent regulatory regime covering buildings over 30 metres tall or of 10 storeys or more in height.

It will be responsible for completing a register of buildings in scope and for oversight of their fire safety. The new Buildings Regulator will need to liaise with existing regulatory bodies and fire safety organizations to ensure that it has the most appropriate and up-to-date construction and fire-related knowledge.

Call for retrofitting of sprinklers

The danger to life, injuries and damage to buildings is “significantly reduced” when sprinkler systems are fitted

In addition, a new Construction Products Standards Committee will work on the development of technical standards for construction products and will advise the Government whether voluntary industrial standards should become UK regulatory standards, a role currently undertaken by the European Commission. Again, this is sorely needed to ensure specification of approved products, installed using best practice, brings further reassurance of safety for the public.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) previously made a call for the installation of sprinklers to become mandatory in all residential buildings, hotels, hospitals, schools and care homes taller than 11 metres. The same organizations have also called for sprinklers to be retrofitted where possible.

Latest national research carried out by the National Fire Chiefs’ Council and the National Fire Sprinkler Network reveals that the danger to life, injuries and damage to buildings is “significantly reduced” when sprinkler systems are fitted. That speaks volumes.

At AEI Cables, we work secure in the knowledge that all of our products are supplied with approvals from independent bodies including BASEC and LPCB. We hold approvals from organizations including Lloyds, the MoD, Network Rail and LUL and work to international standards around the world. We look forward to seeing further detail on how we can work together in the supply chains to apply the highest standards going forward for everyone’s sake.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

In case you missed it

No Easy Solutions: Complex Causes Surround Growth Of Wildfires
No Easy Solutions: Complex Causes Surround Growth Of Wildfires

Understanding the underlying causes of wildfires enables us to control them better over the long haul. One element is climate change, which has created conditions prone to wildfires by increasing heat, changing rain and snow patterns, and shifting plant communities. But there are also other contributing factors in the growing scale and intensity of wildfires. One is the condition of the forests in Australia, California, and other areas where the incidence of wildfires has increased. In California, for example, it is well known that the forests are unhealthy and in need of more prescribed burns and other thinning efforts. However, given California’s 33 million acres of forest land, more than half of it publicly owned, even an ambitious effort like addressing the needs of a million acres a year would require decades to fix the problem. managing the landscape We as a society need to decide how we can restore our forests, and start a conversation about what that looks like" “We know that getting our forests back to a healthy state will be the most effective way to cope with fires in the future,” says Jessica Block, Associate Director for Operational Programs at the WIFIRE Lab at the University of California San Diego. “However, massive fires are destroying the ability of forests to recover." The goal is not to stop wildfires but to understand the role of fire as part of the natural processes of managing the landscape. “We as a society need to decide how we can restore our forests, and start a conversation about what that looks like,” adds Block. “We should think of forests as a system we live in, and a system that we should be able to live in. Understanding the system is the goal, so that we can make all the right decisions in the future.” identify and control wildfires Fires are eating up forests that are way too dense and that have way too many standing trees, and state and federal agencies alone cannot solve the problem. Furthermore, the stakes are literally life and death: Thousands will die, whether in the wildfires or from the effects of inhaling smoke. The negative impact on long-term health is impossible to measure. Especially troubling is the impact of wildfires at the so-called wildland-urban interface (WUI), where growing population centers border on wildlands at risk of fire. Current fire models are not designed for these areas, so more work is needed to address these specific risks. Almost everyone agrees that the solution is to identify and control wildfires at early stages before they get out of control and turn into huge fires that impact millions of acres. automatic detection capabilities Today, postings on social media are an early warning sign but may not identify the exact location of a fire New technologies are helping to identify nascent wildfires. One option is the addition of automatic detection capabilities to the AlertWildfire network of cameras that currently keeps watch throughout five Western states to provide early warning of wildfires. So far, human volunteers have been used to track the cameras, but automation is on the horizon. One application of machine learning is to detect a smoke flume. A critical element is the ability to tell the difference between smoke and clouds, which humans can easily differentiate but is difficult to automate. With machine learning, computers should be able to “learn” the difference. Soon, mechanisms will exist to detect the location of a fire via multiple inputs - web cameras, social media and satellite images. Today, postings on social media are an early warning sign but may not identify the exact location of a fire. Working together, the other tools can help to pinpoint the location. Alerts to fire dispatchers must be verified as real to avoid misuse of resources.

Australia’s Moonshot: To Be Global Leader In Wildfire Prevention, Resilience
Australia’s Moonshot: To Be Global Leader In Wildfire Prevention, Resilience

Andrew and Nicola Forrest have committed 50 million Australian dollars (US$35 million) to the Fire and Flood Resilience initiative through Minderoo Foundation, with a goal of raising an additional 450 million (US$320 million) in direct or in-kind support over the life of the program. The goal of the ambitious investment is to make Australia the global leader in fire and flood resistance by the year 2025. It is an audacious vision that requires an innovative approach, and the organization takes inspiration from the U.S. Apollo mission of the 1960s. In effect, it will be a “moonshot” to advance the cause of preventing and controlling wildfires. Specifically, the first mission, Fire Shield, seeks to ensure no dangerous bushfire in Australia will burn longer than an hour by 2025. respond to wildfires The Flood and Resilience Blueprint further seeks to provide every community in Australia the skills and resources to cope with fire and flood disasters. Finally, it seeks to provide “healthy landscapes” by improving ecosystems to be “immune” to fire and flood disasters. Founded in 2001, Minderoo Foundation exists to arrest unfairness and create opportunities to better the world  “We are not daunted by or afraid of taking on the toughest challenges,” says Karen O’Connor, Missions Lead for Minderoo Foundation’s Fire & Flood Resilience initiative. "Fire has a devastating and unfair impact on communities all around the world - and if we can help drive better approaches to prevent and respond to wildfires, we can have a profound influence.” Founded in 2001, Minderoo Foundation exists to arrest unfairness and create opportunities to better the world. black summer bushfires Minderoo Foundation stepped up after Australia’s black summer bushfires in 2019-2020 to help communities respond to and recover from the devastation. The organization also seeks to do whatever it can to mitigate the risk of large-scale damage due to bushfires and build resilience to future disasters. “We understand that fire and flood are critical ecological processes that enable many of Australia’s ecosystems to function, supporting regeneration and new growth,” says O’Connor. “Therefore, Fire Shield does not aim to prevent wildfires entirely but rather to prevent wildfires from becoming disasters.” ground truth data Fire Shield will progress using the “Mission” methodology that involves breaking down major problems into smaller elements that can be addressed in turn. Missions are outcome-focused and time bound. They rely on accurate baseline and ground truth data and an ability to measure impact to know when the mission has succeeded in its goal. Fundamental to the Mission approach is bringing the best people and expertise to the challenges at hand Fundamental to the Mission approach is bringing the best people and expertise to the challenges at hand - whether they are working in scientific research, in government, corporations or philanthropy. Having accurate data and measures are also essential. To that end, Fire Shield is working with partners to develop an ecosystem for data standardization and sharing in order to collectively leverage insights to address future hazards. emergency services “It is also about making sure that people working in fire and emergency services are provided with the right information, in a timely manner, to make the best decisions when responding to fire,” says O’Connor. An example is Fire Shield’s partnership with the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council to support all Australian emergency services to develop new capabilities for fire detection, information sharing, fire simulation and response as well as utilizing data for improved decision-making wherever they are. fundamental principles “No matter what we do, Minderoo Foundation is always guided by the evidence,” says O’Connor. Minderoo Foundation’s Fire & Flood Resilience Blueprint has brought the best available evidence and expertise together to lay out a resilience blueprint for Australia and to inform the design and selection of missions, including Fire Shield. It challenges us to go right back to scientific principles and look for the best possible solutions” Importantly, the Blueprint is a “living document” that can evolve as the evidence base grows. First order problem solving is about going to the fundamental principles that apply to a problem, rather than thinking through analogies or accepted wisdom. “It challenges us to go right back to scientific principles and look for the best possible solutions,” says O’Connor.  important resilience problems The initiative is committed to working collaboratively. To date they have secured more than 50 partners across corporations, governments and civil society - and they are always open to more. They are also actively looking to collaborate with international programs with similar goals, to ensure they can multiply rather than duplicate efforts.  “We intend to share and publish our work widely, and of course continue to build collaboration, which is central to our approach,” says O’Connor. “We see ourselves as an enabler encouraging, facilitating and convening dialogue among different organizations and sectors of society to identify the most important resilience problems - and get to solutions faster.”

The Origin Of One California Wildfire Was A Gender Reveal Party
The Origin Of One California Wildfire Was A Gender Reveal Party

An explosion of blue-colored smoke on Sept. 5, 2020 in Yucalpa, California, was the beginning of a large wildfire in El Dorado Ranch Park. The pyrotechnic device was essentially a smoke bomb designed to send plumes of pink or blue smoke rising into the air, designating the gender of an expected baby. The expectant dad had packed the target with a highly explosive substance called Tannerite and shot it with a high-powered rifle. The target was designed to explode in pink or blue to reveal whether the couple was expecting a boy or a girl. Flammable foliage When the device ignited, so did the dry, wild grasses growing up to 4 feet tall in the meadow at the park, 80 miles east of Los Angeles. In the peak of summer, Southern California foliage is extremely flammable, and there were already fires burning across the state. After being active for 11 days, the fire had affected 18,506 acres and was 63% contained. The family that sparked the fire sought to put down the flames using water bottles. Then they called 911. The responsible individuals were still at the park when firemen arrived, and there are also surveillance cameras. Wildfire Spread And Evacuation The fire spread from the park to the north on to Yucalpa Ridge that separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucalpa. The fire threatened a nearby residential neighborhood, and some 21,000 people were evacuated. After being active for 11 days, the fire had affected 18,506 acres and was 63% contained. The pyrotechnic show was a variation on the popular trend of gender reveal parties, which seek to announce the gender of an expected infant in increasingly (and competitively) colorful and/or dramatic ways. The parties are often featured prominently on social media. Rising temperatures Also contributing to the fire was recent weather in California, whose terrain was scorching in record-breaking temperatures as high as 120 degrees F in early September. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire) reminds the public that, with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it does not take much to start a wildfire, and those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible. Natural conditions and human activity Natural conditions are central to causing wildfires, although human activity can provide the triggers Natural conditions are central to causing wildfires, although human activity can provide the triggers, including downed power lines, sparks from tire blowouts, and barbecues that get out of control. The pivotal gender-reveal part is just the latest example. If not for the increasingly dry and scorched conditions that make wildfire so easy to ignite, such human events would be much less consequential. With thousands of acres of wildfire raging across California, the cause of one wildfire seems less important in the overall scheme of things. However, the event does emphasize how seemingly minor events can have a very large impact. Lightning and fireworks Another cause of recent wildfires was lightning with more than 10,000 lightning strikes sparking 376 fires on Aug 16 and 17, 2020. In a season of wildfires, use of fireworks, for whatever reason, is a particular risk. Fireworks cause an average of 18,500 fires each year in the United States. Of those, about 1,200 injuries are from less powerful devices such as small firecrackers and sparklers.

vfd