"Government is the worst fire safety manager in the UK".(Active protection: sprinklers)

Claimed Stewart Kidd at a recent National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN) seminar with the theme of '2004 a year of opportunity for sprinklers', which saw delegates elect to pull together in lobbying for sprinklers to be included in the forthcoming Fire Safety Regulatory Reform Order (FSRRO), and even in the review of Approved Document B of the Building Regulations.

In opening the National Fire Sprinkler Network seminar, Chair, CFO Peter Holland identified the network's aims as threefold: disseminating best practice, giving support at practitioner level and lobbying for sprinklers. He commended the small number of local authorities that are now fitting sprinklers in all new schools, although he recognised that this was still too few.

CFO Holland outlined the scale of the challenge faced by the network, using the example of the national motorcycle museum at Bickenhill, which had been gutted recently by fire. The building was not sprinklered, and the fire resulted in a 25m [pounds sterling] loss, not to mention the fact that most of the motorcycles were irreplaceable. Despite the fact that sprinklers would undoubtedly have saved this museum and its exhibits, with minimal water damage, the local MP Caroline Spellman was quoted in the press describing the decision on sprinklers in terms of a choice between losing everything, or having everything wet. This misconception was not challenged at any stage.

CFO Holland went further intimating that he felt that the Education Secretary Alan Milburn was ill-educated about the value of sprinklers. Having identified existing challenges to the inclusion of sprinklers in the forthcoming Fire Safety RRO, and their propagation as widely used protection, CFO Holland cautioned delegates that the network had yet to feel the weight of opposition of the building industry when the consultation begins. …

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