Here are some FAQs on the high rise Sprinkler installation project.
Why are we installing sprinklers?
There is clear evidence that sprinklers are the single most effective method of improving fire safety in high rise. Since 2007 all new build blocks of 30 metres or higher (10 storeys or more) are required to be fitted with sprinkler systems. Whilst this requirement does not currently extend to existing buildings, SCH and SMBC believe that our buildings should now be retrofitted with sprinklers to bring them up to modern standards.
Are sprinklers necessary?
Sprinklers save lives and protect homes from damage in the event of a fire. They also assist firefighters in carrying out search and rescue operations. There is widespread support for sprinklers from fire safety advisors, and technical and professional expert bodies. Our decision has been taken following extensive talks and meetings with West Midlands Fire Service. Sprinklers are invaluable in ensuring that our high rise blocks meet the highest safety standards and in bringing existing buildings up to the same standards as new build properties.
Why can’t residents vote to decide if they want sprinklers?
We believe that sprinklers are a necessity and like any other essential safety measure should not be optional. We have a duty to maintain the high rises and to keep residents safe. We plan to install sprinklers in every flat to ensure they work as effectively as possible, keeping you, your home and your neighbours’ safe.
I’m a leaseholder, do I have to pay for the work?
No, leaseholders are not required to pay for the sprinkler installation.
Will sprinklers be fitted in communal areas?
What rooms will the sprinklers be fitted in?
They will be installed in your lounge, kitchen, bedrooms and the hallway.
How long will the install take?
We plan to complete the install within three or four consecutive working days.
Can you come at the weekend?
No, the work is scheduled for Monday to Friday only.
Can my daughter let you in as I will be out at work during the day – she is 16 and very sensible?
No, unfortunately we cannot carry out the work where a minor (under 18) is alone in the property, there must be an adult present at all times.
Can I let you in in the morning and you can let yourself out when you finish as I have to go to work?
We will work with customers to accommodate their needs and commitments around things such as work and school.
Will sprinklers damage my flat if they go off?
Modern sprinkler systems operate on a room-by-room basis. A sprinkler will only activate in the room where a fire is detected. Sprinklers attack fire quickly and directly, so less water is needed. In the case of a fire, any damage to the property caused by the escape of water from a sprinkler will be covered by our building’s insurance. Customers are still advised to take out their own contents insurance cover to guard against things such as theft, fire and accidental damage.
Will smoking or cooking activate the sprinklers?
No, they are not activated by smoke a very high temperature of approximately 68 degrees centigrade is required to activate the sprinkler head.
Could a sprinkler go off by accident?
This is highly unlikely. Sprinklers are activated by heat, not smoke, and will only go off if the room reaches 71 degrees. So activities such as smoking or cooking will not activate the sprinklers.
Will the sprinklers activate if the fire alarm goes off?
No the sprinklers work independently from the fire alarm system.
If there is a fire will all the sprinklers in the flat go off?
No, only sprinkler heads subjected to a high temperature of 68 degrees centigrade will operate so if the fire was ln the kitchen only then only the sprinkler in the kitchen would activate.
Are the sprinklers supplied from my water in the flat?
No, the sprinkler system is supplied by a water tank located nearby
Will the sprinklers work as soon as I have had the installation carried out?
No, the sprinklers only become ‘live’ once your whole block has had the installation carried out.
Will the installation be disruptive?
We estimate that it will take three or four days to install the sprinklers in your home. This involves sprinkler pipes and heads contained within trunking which is run through the hallway where possible to minimise disturbance to your flat. There will be some noise for a few hours, but work will take place between 8am-5pm.
Will you redecorate if you have to drill into walls?
We will make good filling holes with filler and painting (white or magnolia) but 99% of any holes will be behind the box panelling so will not be visible once the work is complete
Will the system need regular maintenance?
There will be annual maintenance checks of pumps and water tanks to ensure they are working effectively. There will also be annual visual checks of sprinkler heads within individual properties.
Can I view an example of a flat with the sprinklers installed?
Yes. Take a look at the high rise sprinkler installation video.
I have my own smoke alarm so why do I need sprinklers?
A smoke alarm does not provide full protection against fire. Many fires start during the night and even though smoke alarms are loud, it can take several minutes for a person to wake and get out.
Is there evidence to show that sprinklers have saved lives?
There is. Recent examples include the 79-storey Dubai Marina Torch where sprinklers prevented loss of life during a fire.
What other fire safety precautions do the high rises have?
Fire safety is a priority to us at all times. Annual Fire Risk Assessments are completed by members of our Safer Homes Team. Our estate assistants make regular checks to ensure the stairwells and communal areas are in good order and clear of rubbish. The high rises are fitted with fire doors throughout and these are regularly checked and maintained by our Fire Integrity Team. Lifts are also inspected on a regular basis.
When will work start on the installation of sprinklers?
Work started in Spring 2021.
I would like to get more involved in the safety of my building?
Great! We would love you to. We are looking for high rise residents to work with us by becoming Building Safety Advocates. Please visit our getting involved page to find out how you can do this.
What should I do if I have any safety concerns in my building?
Please contact us immediately on 0121 717 1599.
If the sprinklers in the flat above go off, will the water come down into my flat? And if so will my contents insurance cover any damage?
Yes, it is likely the water may leak into the flat(s) below. However, if you have contents insurance this will cover you for any initial loss.
What happens if the water comes down into my flat and I don’t have contents insurance?
If you do not have contents insurance, it’s likely you will experience financial loss to repair the items damaged.
If the sprinklers are opened because of carelessness of the tenant above, either accidentally or purposely, then the claim would be against the tenant. However, if it was purely accidental because of defect or design, then the claim would be against SCH.
If the sprinklers go off accidentally in my own flat will I be recompensed for any damages to my own flat/possessions?
Again, this depends on what the cause was. If the tenant accidentally activated the sprinkler then they would be responsible for the damage caused.
If the sprinkler opened accidentally because of defect or design, this would be a claim against SCH.
Please read through these FAQs carefully and if you have any further questions you can contact us for more information by completing an online form. We will respond to enquiries within five working days.