What is the true cost of fire?

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What is the true cost of fire?



It is well known that fires damage properties and can cost lives. Yet, historically there has been little research into the real cost of fire and how the installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems (AFSSs) can mitigate the overall impact of fires to businesses, the environment, society and the local and wider economy.

It is estimated that by 2020 UK PLC could stand to lose as much as £10 billion to commercial and industrial fires. At a time when budget cuts have placed the Fire and Rescue Services resources under pressure, it is time for UK PLC to take responsibility for protecting their businesses effectively.

Although the technology of automatic fire suppression through sprinkler systems is more than 140 years old, the sector continues to improve and innovate, helping to make systems more affordable and efficient. Yet, a startling number of businesses in the UK still choose not to protect their assets with AFSSs whilst week after week local news outlets continue to report on industrial and commercial building fires and the devastating impact that they have; including those that never fully recover following a significant fire.

Traditionally the cost of fire has been based on the monetary loss; however there is a larger cost to consider, one that accounts for business interruption, cash-flow volatility, life safety, loss of reputation and the impact on the environment. Each category can suffer greatly at the hands of fire, but similarly, each can be greatly alleviated or extinguished entirely through the installation of fire sprinklers.

Research by the Association of British Insurers in 2009 found that industrial and commercial premises without fire sprinklers cost the UK approximately £3.6 million every day.[1] The most shocking figures, however, arise when you look at the environmental impact of fires.

Businesses decision not to install fire sprinklers in their premises is wreaking irreparable damage on the environment. Each year, there are approximately 364 commercial and industrial building fires.  This results in the needless emissions of 350,000 tons of CO² wasteful use of over nine billion litres of water. The latter of those figures equating to five times the UK’s entire annual bottled water consumption.[2] Buildings fitted with sprinklers use only 0.2% of the water used to extinguish a fire in comparison to buildings without fire sprinklers. [3]

Fire sprinklers have a massively important role to play in active fire prevention and the environment. But in order to fully understand the true cost of fire more research needs to be done.

The Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA), a coalition working to achieve greater business resilience through enhanced protection against fire, is in the process of commissioning such a report. The research piece will include the findings of the Bureau Veritas “Assessing the Role for Fire Sprinklers” report and delve deeper into the cost benefit of installing sprinklers in industrial and commercial buildings. The BSA believes that this evidence provides an even broader case for the business community to provide fire sprinklers in their properties.

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