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In wake of London fire, trade group urges retrofitting sprinklers in high-rise buildings


LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, MD June 16, 2017 The National Fire Sprinkler Association joins with other national fire safety organizations in sending condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed or injured in the Grenfell Tower residential high-rise fire this week.

"It is unfortunate that it too often takes this kind of tragedy to remind us all that fire sprinklers can at the very least mitigate, and often prevent, loss of life and property," says Shane Ray, NFSA President. "We join with our colleagues in the United Kingdom in a worldwide call to all decision-makers to adopt new rules and regulations requiring the retrofitting of high-rise buildings with fire sprinkler systems. These types of fires shouldn't be at this magnitude in 2017 and we've known it for decades".

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has found that, when sprinklers operated, they were effective 96 percent of the time. While we do not have complete details about the nature of the fire at Grenfell Tower, we believe it's safe to say that the presence of a sprinkler system would have had a mitigating impact on the fire.

Here in the United States, there are more than 14,000 high-rise structure fires annually, according to the NFPA. While many of these fires occur in structures that have sprinkler systems, the United States has far too many older buildings that do not have sprinklers and are not being retrofitted.

"Grenfell Tower is a sad reminder that we all still have a long way to go toward making these kinds of facilities safer for the people who work and live in them," continues Ray. "Fire sprinklers are effective and affordable, most importantly, fire sprinklers give occupants more time to escape and firefighters support in containing the fire."

To understand the issue in relation to the London Fire, please see the research conducted in 2012 by the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA). The Association commissioned a report on the economics of fire sprinkler retrofit in residential apartment blocks of this type. The study concluded that fire sprinklers could be retrofitted with tenants in place at a cost of about £1150 per flat. Since the 24-story Grenfell Tower contained 120 flats, BAFSA reports that a fire sprinkler system could have been installed for less than 2 percent of the £10 million spent on refurbishment of the tower just last year, money that was wasted considering that the tower now appears to be a total loss.

The BAFSA report, entitled Safer High-Rise Living, the Callow Mount Sprinkler Retrofit Project, can be accessed at http://www.bafsa.org.uk/pdfs/publications/1/00000111.pdf.


NFSA's mission is "to protect lives and property from fire through the widespread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept."

NFSA wants to create a more fire-safe world, and works to heighten the awareness of the importance of fire sprinkler systems from homes to high-rises and all occupancies in between. The Association is an inclusive organization made up of dedicated and committed members of a progressive lifesaving industry. This industry manufactures, designs, supplies, installs, inspects and services the world's most effective system in saving lives and property from uncontrolled structural fires.

For more information about the National Fire Sprinkler Association, visit www.nfsa.org and follow us via our social media presence on Twitter (@NFSAorg), LinkedIn (National Fire Sprinkler Association) and Facebook (Natfiresprinkler).


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