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Birmingham Refuse Store/Chute Sprinkler Activation

4 May 2022

  • Fire Rescue Service; West Midlands Fire Rescue Service
  • Incident; Fire refuse store/chute
  • When; 4 May 2022
  • Where, Edgbaston Birmingham
  • Use of premises; Purpose built residential block of flats containing 116 flats
  • Height of building: 10 or more stories
  • Fixed installation; Automatic fire suppression system (AFSS)

Triangle Fire Systems have reported the above-mentioned incident resulting in the activation of the premises sprinkler system involving the internal refuse store/chute.


  • As part of a 3-year programme, Birmingham Council approved the installation of retrofitting residential sprinkler systems in all their high-rise residential block of flats in 2017 which included the removal of combustible material from the façade where it was identified by laboratories, and the replacement of window infill panels with A2 fire rated products.
  • Prior to this programme, Birmingham council completed a sprinklers programme to install sprinklers in all the communal bin areas of their residential tower block property portfolio
  • This approach implemented by Birmingham city council should be applauded, the outcome of which will provide a further layer of safety from fire for both their residents, firefighters.
  • High rise fires are one of the most challenging incidents firefighters tackle on a day-to-day basis throughout the country

Sprinkler System

  • BS9251:2014
  • Sprinkler heads, VK486
  • Water supply
  1. Dedicated duplicate pumps with generator back up
  2. 60-minute tank

 The incident

It is reported that the fire was located in the premises refuse chute, lit refuse dropped down the chute to refuse store activating the premises suppression system containing/controlling the fire no injuries were reported.

Did you know that the BAFSA Incident Data report No 2 on fire incidents in Great Britain where sprinklers were reported for the period of 2018/19 to 2020/21




  • Refuse stores account for the highest number of incidents where sprinklers are recorded as being present in fire incidents in purpose-built blocks of flats with 145 incidents
  • Dangers of bin store fires can have a dramatic effect on the safety of the residents, specifically where refuse chutes and access hatches can sometimes be found directly opening onto protected corridors, lobbies, and stairs, so providing the potential for the spread of fire and smoke to the common escape routes.

It is therefore best practice in these situations.

  1. Automatic fire-resisting shutter should be fitted at the base of the refuse chute to restrict the spread of fire and smoke from a fire in the bin room. The shutter should, as a minimum, be operated on a fixed temperature fusible link.
  2. Bespoke sprinkler system, Further protection can be provided by the installation of a sprinkler system located over the bins, with either frangible bulb or fusible link sprinkler heads, or open sprinkler heads with water discharge controlled by smoke detectors.

Image showing a typical refuse-store protected by a bespoke sprinkler system, fusible linked fire resisting shutter

  Benefits of residential sprinkler systems

Rapidly reduced the rate of production of heat and smoke allowing

  • The fire service crucial time to implement their operational tactical plan evacuate the premises
  • Flashover prevente
  • Fire contained to compartment of origin



4 May 2022