I object to some of the comments made by Paul Timmins regarding the Local Government Association’s call for sprinklers to be fitted to all new buildings (16 November, page 36).

He said: “This is a misguided tragedy. Sprinklers are not the way to minimise loss of life. Features such as smoke-ventilation systems have greater benefits for fighting fires.”

Well, consider the following:

  • Ventilation systems do not fight fires; active fire-suppression systems do
  • Smoke damage is a major cause of loss and death in fires, but sprinklers wash the larger particles out of smoke, reducing its density and toxicity, and cool the smoke, making it less harmful
  • Quick-response sprinklers attack fires even earlier than others, which dramatically reduces the amount of smoke that a fire produces
  • In buildings that are fully protected by sprinklers, 99% of fires are controlled by sprinklers alone and 60% are controlled by the spray from no more than four sprinklers.

So who is misguided?

Stephen Burt, business development manager, SPIE Matthew Hall