Fire sprinkler systems for HMO’s – any thoughts?

Fire sprinkler systems for HMO’s – any thoughts?

11:14 AM, 12th April 2013, About 9 years ago 50

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Fire sprinkler systems for HMO's - any thoughtsWe have a 3 storey Georgian terrace that we let as an 8 bed student property. All the ceilings are old lath an plaster, but in order to meet current standards, we should really board over every ceiling with plasterboard, incurring a massive cost, and also ruining much of the character of the rooms by removing the traditional cornicing.
We then have the issue of the old wallpapered walls which would be ruined at the top by removing the cornicing. Add to this the disruption to the tenants/loss of rent while the work is being done, decorating, cleaning up, the list goes on.

We can avoid all of this by putting in a sprinkler system, but how much will this cost? Does anyone have experience of installing a sprinkler system in an older property, would you recommend it? It would immediately solve all our issues, and even mean no more fire doors and auto closers.

It seems like a no brainer!


Jon Champion



12:03 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

Wow! I have just read some of the negative comments on sprinkler systems and did not realise how much ignorance (as in lack of knowledge) there was out there about sprinklers.

A few facts...

Burning toast would not set off a sprinkler, only heat can cause activation.

Sprinklers do not go off accidentally, nor have I ever seen any cases of vandalism against sprinklers, despite installing to may apparent vulnerable premises such as student accommodation of blocks of flats with little control exercised over sprinklers common areas.

A property that is sprinkler end and suffers a fire, costs, on average, 69% less to reinstate than an unsprinklered property due to the water damage being a considerably less 'evil' than fire damage.

Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, not all the sprinklers in the building.

See also our blog on

by Gilly

13:25 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

@Joe Bloggs

Low risk houses are referred to in LACORS and moreso in the written clarification 2009 - both national documents not just covering Wales. If people want to preserve Victorian doors then they can under certain circumstances (without having to resort to sprinkler systems), but environmental officers can be very heavy-handed in this respect, as they were with me until it went to appeal. If you have a specific problem please feel free to contact me on I feel as though I did a PHD on fire safety and shared houses 🙂 Sorry this is getting off the subject a bit....


14:13 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

Hi there
Posted a comment last night but cant see it here - so here goes again!
There are certified and fully tested upgrade applications for improving the fire performance of intricate and decorative ceilings as described in the initial post. All the work is done from above (by lifting the floorboards in the room above - or in the loft space) still a lot of work but you do preserve the ornate ceilings, plasterwork and cornice.

Similarly there are specifications for upgrading older style/non-standard sized 6 panel doors rather than changing to modern fire doors.

Sprinklers can cause untold water damage (as much as fire hoses) and one thing that has not been mentioned is the yearly maintenance (as with an alarm system and gas boiler) that is an additional yearly cost (and its not cheap)

There are however one shot (ie limited discharge systems) that might be more appropriate to residential applications (water fog)

by Mark Alexander

14:18 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

Hi Ian, sorry about that, I can't see your previous post in the system anywhere either. Thanks for posting again though 🙂

by Cristian Stoian

15:14 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

I don't know if among the many replies on this subject, fire-ratardant paint has been mentioned, so here it is. One can use such paint and achieve up to 1hr fire resistance. The method is well known and used in historical buildings etc. One manufacturer I know is Envirograh.


18:29 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

If it saves you money and time then do it. The systems can be checked for sensitivity and anything that goes off by mistake will be covered or least it should. You can put a clause in the contracts that if these things go off "for fun" or "by mistake" somebody will be liable, not you.

Gdluck 🙂


21:10 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

Defifnitely NOT; under NO circumstances would I install a sprinkler system in ANY of my properties NO matter how good I know they are!!

There is NO point!
I would NOT achieve any more rent from having it installed!
So why should I put myself at a financial disadvantage to any other LL.
Only mandatory requirements would force me to install such protections.
Or of course the financial imperative which would be enforced by insurance requirements would possibly force such improvements to be made.
No fire protection measures were EVER introduced voluntarily!!
Such measures generally occur after major disasters.
That is why there is HMO legislation following a few high profile cases about 20 years ago.
One I think in Edgware Road which I had the good fortune not to attend though i would of had i been on duty at the time!!
So any legislation should be across the piece.
Why do you think fire retardant furniture requirements were brought in!?
Deaths caused by smoking and them dropping on furniture; mattresses. and subsequent fires.
I went to a couple myself. and subsequent fires.
Only state imposition will cause fire protection measures to be instituted.
The private market will very rarely institute such changes.
Insurance markets have a small effect on processes.
ALL fire safety legislation is based on fires or issues that have occurred in the past.
Essentially it is always brought in after the horse has bolted!!
Private capital will NEVER spend money on things unless it is forced to.
which is why I WON'T be spending my money on undoubted highly efficacious systems like sprinklers!
Obviously if every LL has to install them than that levels the playing field.
I can easily see in the near future a planning requirement that all properties for let must have sprinkler systems.
When you think of the possible losses that could occur to a LL should a fire occur if the costs of installing aftermarket sprinklers were cheap enough LL would install them.
Much like LL having to ensure that properties MUST meet the EPC min E standard or withdraw them from the letting market.
I think LL at some stage will have to introduce them.
The will be given time to install them a bit like the EPC requirements; but I reckon they will be required to install sprinklers.
I hope to be out of this game when that happy time arrives!!!??


21:32 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

I would also add that there is a strong case for fire detection systems in residential property.
But I would not fit aftermarket unless perhaps refurbing a property.
New-build property is now required to have ONE hard-wired smoke detector.
Having more is clearly better.
People will spend more on security than they ever will on fire protection as it will NEVER happen the them.
Anyone with a -eko appliance think again!!!
Domestic appliances are far more likely to cause more problems than being burgled!
In an ideal world all properties would have detectors in each room or area linked to a central panel affixed outside a property for when the fire service turn up.
We won't be at that stage for decades, if ever.
More damage is caused by floods than fire.
This is what insurance companies are really concerned about.
Unfortunately it is all about the money
Domestic fire deaths aren't really a national priority; tragic though they may be.
Best thing most people can do is just get out and let the professionals put it out.
Smoke detectors are needed though to wake you up and get you out.
Just incase none of you know; the local fire service will come to your home or tenants' home and fit FREE smoke detectors which generally last 10 years.
You just have to request they visit and they will come!

by Sally T

23:15 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

We had a tenant pile clothes on a bed and set fire to them, it was extinguished quickly by the fire brigade (actual fire damage was one corner of a room only ), but the smoke damage to the upstairs meant the insurance claim was over £15k.

Fire damage isn't always about the damage done by the flames. Got some cracking pics if anyone wants a look !!!!

Joking aside, I was 6 months pregnant with our first child at the time, really was one of the worst experiences of my life walking into a house that was black after the tenant had said on the phone, 'ow it's just a bit of smoke damamge' 🙁


23:27 PM, 13th April 2013, About 9 years ago

you are absolutely correct about smoke damage.
which is why keeping a simple door shut can prevent massive damage.
Always remember one of my last jobs; a new tumble drier in a utility room went up and smoke damage throughout the house!!!
I have been lucky todate with no fire experiences; but I have had plenty of flooding ones!!
I think a fire would have been prefferable!

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