Following the major fire which ripped through the upper floors of a student accommodation block in Bristol City Centre (UK), the need for automatic fire suppression to be installed in such buildings is once again highlighted.
Starting a course of study at a university or college of further education is generally a young person’s first time away from family and home. For many, leaving home is liberating and fun. Unfortunately it is not without its hazards; and partying, smoking, alcohol consumption and careless cooking are all factors that contribute to unwanted fires in buildings providing student accommodation.
In Bristol the fire is believed to have started in a kitchen but swiftly spread destroying the roof and two floors of the building. Fortunately the building was empty at the time and there are no reports of injuries. Nevertheless a properly installed and maintained sprinkler system would have suppressed the fire and limited the damage. The disruption and distress to the students who will now need to be rehoused would probably have been avoided and the cost to the University minimal. Experience also suggests that most of the occupants of the damaged areas will have lost all their possessions which are unlikely to have been insured.
National statistics regarding fires in student accommodation are not available, but this incident is certainly not an isolated example. Indeed, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, who cover the university city of Sheffield, reported their firefighters attended 115 incidents in student properties during 2011.
A growing numbers of fire safety experts are raising concerns about the increasing fire risks in student accommodation and support BAFSA’s belief that automatic fire sprinklers should be protecting both lives and property in this sector; and many Chief Fire Officers are asking questions of developers who, on behalf of governing bodies, fail to include such protection in new buildings.
BAFSA has published a document tackling the subject BIF 23: “Fire Sprinklers in Student Accommodation” which is available for download from www.bafsa.org.uk
Image courtesy of Avon Fire and Rescue Service