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


by Sally T

7:59 AM, 14th April 2013, About 9 years ago

You probably wont believe it but the same tenant flooded the property 2 days before the fire (we didn't know when we rented to her she had mental health issues).
She blocked the plug hole in the sink and left the taps on overnight. I would choose the water damage every time, took my husband and his friend weeks of cleaning and recleaning to get rid of the smell, even now when you lift the stair carpet the smells still there. Unless you replaster you then have to use paint thats £60 for 5L on the walls to stop the oil from the soot coming through new paint.
It was our first insurance claim and we went about it all wrong, after reading on here we will be in a much better place to deal with itif it happened again, but hopefully not.


8:41 AM, 14th April 2013, About 9 years ago

Unfortunately, too many people still come out with mis-information on fire sprinklers. Take the rather strange comment from Lee who said that water damage is worse than fire damage!!!??? I have attended the site where a sprinkler had operated in a care home for adolescents and the water damage was minimal: a small amount leaking through the ceiling rose in the room below and a saturated carpet in the fairly large room of origin itself.
The carpet was rolled up and discarded, a de-humidifier was employed for a few hours and the room was back in use within 24 hours. The owners of the care home lost no revenue due to the incident and more importantly NOBODY was injured or even traumatised.

Of course the comment that 'these systems activating when someone burns toast' shows an even more lamentable lack of understanding of a system which is HEAT activated!!

Oh and Mark - yes I do have a sprinkler system installed in my property.


0:26 AM, 15th April 2013, About 9 years ago

P Hummerton
Yes you are correct there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding sprinklers.
Problems with water supplies etc make installation of domestic sprinkler systems problematic.
I think the industry needs to come up a with a solution which satisfies the water companies and provides an effective installation for most properties.
It however remains a problem fitting these after market.
New-build is the ideal time.
Until insurance premiums reflect such sprinkler installations very few 'normal' domestic properties will install them.
If developers could achieve a price premium for new - build with sprinklers then that might be a game changer.
I just can't see in the present economic climate though.
Remember fire always happen to other people!!
Until that perception is changed sprinklers will find it hard to make inroads to domestic properties.

by Ian Ringrose

17:20 PM, 15th April 2013, About 9 years ago

I don’t have a sprinkler in my home; however I don’t live in a room on the 4th floor in a HMO with poor fire proofing!I would consider installing a sprinkler system in a new build, hopefully within a few years, Wales will have brought down the cost of systems for all of us.

by Gilly

18:36 PM, 15th April 2013, About 9 years ago

Gee thanks! (person from wales)

by Gilly

18:36 PM, 15th April 2013, About 9 years ago

Gee thanks Ian! (person from wales)


5:43 AM, 16th April 2013, About 9 years ago

apparently you will need a separate water supply from the road for a sprinkler system.
that in itself could cost more that the over-plastering idea.
I looked into this for a 16 bedroomed property a few years ago, on the advice of a fire officer, and the quote was very prohibitive.

as for the comments left, the red bulb is a hard olefin plastic that melts at 80degrees. similar temperature to a heat detector. but only the melted bulb will allow water out. all other bulbs will stay intact until they reach 80degrees or, of course, some twit considers it fun to break them.
it's not like the movies where all the sprinklers go off just because one has gone off.
however the drop in water pressure, caused by a broken or melted bulb, sets off the fire alarm.


16:19 PM, 23rd April 2013, About 9 years ago

Fire door openers aren't all bad! I use these free door fire door openers in my properties and they fit in nicely with the buildings.

by Robert M

1:15 AM, 26th April 2013, About 9 years ago

I have a few comments.

First of all the original enquiry seemed to relate to a large shared property but a later answer (Yvonne) seemed to refer to a similar property split into separate flats. In my area these would be treated differently regarding thirty minute separation between floors.

Secondly, I think mains interlinked smoke detectors are the devils spawn. They are horrendous devices in let properties due to the tenants' reactions when the battery wears out and they start to bleep. For this reason I only fit proper alarm systems lined to a panel in my rented houses and that includes two storey, four bedroom houses. Every room except bathrooms and toilets are covered.

I cannot see my local Council expecting a sprinkler system in addition to a full fire alarm system, but will not hold my breathe!

by matchmade

14:26 PM, 1st May 2013, About 9 years ago

Re: Paul Barrett's comment: as a small developer I would expect to receive no improvement in selling price from installing sprinklers; if anything I would expect people to be put off because they would be concerned about the sprinklers going off by mistake and wrecking the house. The manufacturers can say what they like, but all systems go wrong: I've lost count of the number of times radiant heat detectors and smoke detectors go off in houses I've rented out, despite being professionally installed and approved by a fire officer, and the only fire hazard being a slightly higher setting on a toaster or someone frying onion and garlic for a spaghetti bolognese. The detectors, like modern fuses on consumer units, are simply set at too sensitive a level. The result: tenants sometimes go as far as removing the detectors from their mountings or turning the fire circuit off at the consumer unit, which like fire extinguishers being used to block open irritating self-closing fire doors, defeats the whole point of these expensively-installed systems.

I fully expect sprinkler systems, like mechanical ventilation and heat recovery units and so-called zero-carbon homes, to be imposed on the builders of new houses in the near future, and for developers to receive no benefit for all these extra costs. The Council of Mortgage Lenders already requires mortgage surveyors to value new-build houses at the same price as equivalent-sized second-hand houses in an area, so there is no such thing as a "new build premium", despite modern houses being dramatically better-built and cheaper to run than old houses. Sprinklers will just be another bolt-on system to keep the (re)writers of the building regulations busy, and hang the expense or the impact on the rate of new house construction in this country.

As a landlord, I would rather stop renting out a lovely period property as an HMO rather than vandalise it with sprinklers or replacing all the original doors with modern fire doors. The best solution would be to intervene in the fabric of the building and hide the fire-proofing under the floorboards and carpets, so you don't have to destroy the period features, but honestly, talk about a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It would be simpler just to give up renting as an HMO in the first place.

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