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BSA ENCOURAGES GREATER SPRINKLER ADOPTION IN WAREHOUSES AT UKWA CONFERENCE

The Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA) was pleased to lend its support and promote awareness of sprinklers at the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) National Conference on the 12-13th March.

The conference, themed ‘2024 The Year of Warehousing’ and held at the East Midlands Conference Centre on the University of Nottingham campus,  featured expert panels discussing best practices in sustainability, cybercrime, property markets and other topics relevant to the warehousing sector.

Tom Roche, Secretary of the Business Sprinkler Alliance, was one of over 200 built environment and warehousing professionals attending and lent his insight into the discussions with warehouse owners and operators, stressing the importance of business resilience and safeguarding these critical structures from the outset.

“Many warehouse owners and operators see sprinklers as a necessary evil for insurance purposes, but don’t fully grasp how they work and how critical they are for protecting lives, property and business continuity,” he said.

Fire remains the largest cause of damage to warehouse buildings; the average cost of a large warehouse fire is £5.9million1 and over 25 warehouse fires occur every month.  Modern warehouses pose differing challenges due to increasingly complex storage arrangements, concentrations of values, combustible contents and physical limitations when it comes to firefighting. Simply put, the way contents are stored would be an ideal form in which to rapidly spread a fire and hence the need for attention to fire safety.

Sustainability

“The conference had a focus on sustainability practices. Understandably that focused on energy solutions for vehicles and energy efficiency solutions such as solar panels. These have a sizeable impact on a business’s carbon footprint and operating costs. However, there is also scope to consider resilience of warehouse buildings and the impact of fire as another critical element within sustainability practices. As recent large warehouse fires have shown, their environmental impact can be significant not only in terms of pollution but also firefighting resources, water and the extensive rebuild of facilities” said Tom Roche

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To be truly sustainable buildings should also be resilient to fire, with fire sprinkler systems proven to be the most effective means of fire protection. Furthermore, a building’s sustainability or green rating is focused on energy performance, but those environmental credits are instantly lost when a building burns to the ground.

In addition to highlighting the fire protection benefits of sprinklers, the BSA delegation learned of other challenges facing the industry. Labour shortages, lack of available land for new warehouse construction, difficulties obtaining planning permission and sufficient power at site locations were among the topics discussed.

Throughout the two-day event, the BSA met with attendees to explain the multitude of benefits sprinklers provide for life safety, asset protection, environmental protection, and the long-term sustainability of warehouse operations when fire strikes.

“There is still an education gap around sprinklers and their role in warehousing resilience and risk mitigation,” said Tom Roche. “Events like this provide an invaluable opportunity to build understanding that sprinklers are a smart investment, not just a regulatory compliance box to check. For the more complex storage solutions that the industry is trying to adopt, they will be an essential element to secure their business operations. Therefore, we hope to inspire more warehouse owners and operators to embrace sprinklers as a critical layer of protection.”

The Business Sprinkler Alliance advocates greater business resilience by enhancing protection against fire through the increased acceptance and use of fire sprinklers in commercial and industrial premises.

For more information about the Business Sprinkler Alliance visit www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org

1Fears pandemic-led e-commerce boom could spark rise in warehouse blazes

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