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Latest iteration of British Standard for domestic sprinkler systems published

05 July 2021

THE LATEST iteration of the British Standard for domestic and residential sprinkler systems has now been published by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and should be called upon for all new installations as of now. Where contracts have already been let or tenders have been submitted using the 2014 version, the older version of the document can be used if all parties agree.

There’s an existing European standard on the design, installation and maintenance of residential sprinkler systems (ie BS EN 16925:2018). However, this has required a UK national foreword and annexes to make its requirements as robust as those in BS 9251:2014 for buildings up to four storeys or 18 metres in height (whichever is the lower) and isn’t technically suitable for residential and domestic occupancies exceeding this height.

On that basis, BS 9251:2021 Fire Sprinkler Systems for Domestic and Residential Occupancies. Code of Practice covers recommendations for domestic sprinkler systems, includes residential and domestic buildings above four storeys or 18 metres tall and above and the parts that conflict with BS EN 16925 have been removed.

BS 9251:2021 is aimed at architects and surveyors, engineers, contractors, sprinkler design, installation and maintenance companies, public and private sector building owners, authorities having jurisdiction and also insurers.

Why use BS 9251:2021?

The British Standard gives recommendations for the design, installation, components, water supplies and backflow protection, commissioning, maintenance and testing of fire sprinkler systems installed for life safety purposes with additional benefits for property protection.

As stated, BS 9251:2021 also outlines recommendations for sprinkler protection of domestic and residential premises where the building height is either more than four storeys or 18 metres and above. Importantly, its recommendations also apply to any addition, extension, repair or other modification to a residential sprinkler system.

The British Standard is based on 20 years’ practical experience and substantial testing conducted by UK test laboratories. In particular, the application rate recommendations are based on independent testing of sprinkler heads undertaken on behalf of UK fire regulators. As such they offer a significant degree of confidence in the reliability and efficacy of sprinkler systems designed to protect life in residential and domestic occupancies.

Experience of real fires in premises protected by sprinklers designed and installed to BS 9251:2014 recommendations confirms that the recommended minimum application rates are appropriate.

What’s new about BS 9251:2021?

This is a full revision of BS 9251:2014 with the following principal changes:

*Introduction of building categorisation based on occupancy risk

*Change of building height limit

*Variation in sprinkler head design density

*Increase in sprinkler head spacing

*Expanded guidance on preliminary work and consultation

*Expanded guidance on water supplies

*Additional measures for vulnerable people and multi-occupancy premises

Copies of BS 9251:2021 Fire Sprinkler Systems for Domestic and Residential Occupancies. Code of Practice are available on the BSI’s website