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City of London Social Housing Tower Block Sprinkler Save

April 19

Images credit The City Corporation


  • The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) is the UK’s leading professional trade association for the fire sprinkler industry.
  • Our primary objectives include providing authoritative information on the benefits of fire sprinkler systems and how fire sprinklers can play a significant role in saving life and property from the devastating effects of fire.
  • One way to achieve this is to demonstrate the vital role sprinklers play in fire safety arrangements by highlighting real tangible examples of where they have actuated and in doing so, saved life and property from fire.
  • The outcome of which will entice others in the housing sector or providing sleeping accommodation to install fire sprinklers as part of a package of fire safety measures reducing the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment.

A sprinkler save is categorised as where one or more sprinkler heads have activated and contained, controlled or in some cases, extinguished a building fire. The story around the incident provides powerful evidence of the ability of sprinklers to protect life, firefighters, and property from fire.

The most recent ¹UK research commissioned by the National Fire Chiefs Council, National Fire Sprinkler Network and supported by British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association in the publication, “Efficiency and Effectiveness of Sprinkler Systems in the United Kingdom: An Analysis from Fire Service Data”. Key data revealed that across all premises types:

  • Sprinklers are 99% efficient in extinguishing or controlling a fire.
  • Sprinklers are 94% efficient in their ability to operate.

This post fire sprinkler save supports this evidence.

The City of London Corporation (The City Corporation) following the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower made a commitment to review policies, processes and procedures relating to fire safety precautions across their housing portfolio to reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring in a building, recognising that the largest number of deaths from fire occur in the home.

As part of this directive in May 2018, the decision was made to install life safety residential sprinkler systems compliant to BS91251:21 as par of a wider scheme of works to improve fire safety for all dwellings in the five social housing tower blocks owned by the city corporation, providing a further layer of safety from fire for their residents, tenants.

March 2024, it is reported that a kitchen fire was successfully extinguished by the activation of the sprinkler system within one of the social housing tower blocks with no injuries reported Justifying the decision taken by the City Corporation.

The Premises: – The Avondale Square Estate consists of three 20 storey blocks each containing 72 dwellings consisting of studio, 1-bedroom flats with ancillary areas on the ground floor. Constructed with concrete frame, floors and stairs with a concrete façade recessed balconies.

Description of incident:- The location of the fire was within a 1-bedroom flat on the 13 floor of a 20 storey social housing block. It is reported that a chip pan fire was contained, controlled, and extinguished by the activation of 1 sidewall sprinkler head no further firefighting intervention was required with no injuries reported.


Activated, kitchen sidewall sprinkler head                              Minor smoke, soot visible above the seat of the fire

(Images credit The City Corporation)

 The images of the incident clearly demonstrate the benefits of sprinklers as a life safety system.

  • Minimal smoke, soot damage visible on the kitchen walls, ceiling.
  • No direct burning or fire damage located around the seat of the fire or reported following the incident.

 Key Facts

  • The fire was extinguished, controlled within the compartment of origin, no direct fire damage reported within the dwelling.
  • The activation of the sprinkler system reduced the heat output from the fire by reducing its growth, allowing more time for the occupants to escape to safety or be rescued.
  • No further firefighting media was required by London Fire Brigade
  • The sprinkler system provided vital protection for the residents dwelling, belongings, personal processions.

Debunking the myths: –

  • Residential sprinklers as an extinguishing media should not be used on chip pan fires.
  • When one sprinkler activates, they all activate. Fact, only the sprinkler head(s) directly affected by the fire is activated.

 Sprinkler Saves UK have reported several incidents involving chip pan fires on each occasion the fire was extinguished, contained, or controlled.

In England cooking fires are the most common type of accidental fire reported for the period 2013/2014 to 2022/2023 with over 1100 fires. We still see reports from the Fire Rescue Service (FRS) that where the occupant is present at the time of a chip pan fire, they have tried to extinguish the fire themselves by placing the oil pan under the tap in the kitchen sink or throw water on the pan causing the oil to explode causing serious injury allowing further fire to spread.

When you compare this incident to a picture taken at a similar dwelling fire reported by Lancashire FRS involving a chip pan fire the difference is clear to see when sprinklers are not present.


Image credit Lancashire FRS

This review provides further evidence that a correctly designed and installed life safety sprinkler system.

  • Can detect and control a fire at an early stage of development and activate an alarm.
  • Operation of the system rapidly reduces the rate of production of heat and smoke, allowing more time for the occupants to escape to safety or be rescued.
  • Assist firefighters in carrying out search and rescue operations by limiting fire development, which significantly reduces the risk to firefighters.

 It is recognised that the life-saving operating parameters of the sprinkler system requires effective fire protection both passive and active elements working in unison and complementing the roles of one another. The provision of a sprinkler system does not neglect the need for other fire practical precautions or provisions where the person is at higher-than-average risk from fire, unable to self-evacuate in the event of a fire.

Emergency Plan

A robust emergency plan will allow the provision of vital information for the FRS to be shared by onsite representatives. Clarifying the location and provision of key elements of the active fire safety systems where present such as sprinklers and other forms of Automatic Fire Suppression Systems. (AFSS) The outcome of which will allow a robust onsite emergency response to be immediately actioned to assist the control of the sprinkler system during the fire incident and following a fire so that they can be reinstated.


If you want to make a difference working in the fire sector, we need your assistance……

To make sprinklers the norm and not the exception – we need the evidence. Encouraging the FRS to promote, collate, report sprinkler activations to Sprinkler Saves UK will help to create a central and comprehensive record of fire incidents where sprinklers played their role in containing/controlling or extinguishing the fire.

If you hear of a save report it using this link

sprinkler saves activation posted 19 April 2024


April 19


Location (Town/City)