In the 1970’s the USA sprinkler market developed a new standard for domestic and residential sprinkler systems via an organisation called the NFPA.
A standard NFPA 13 had been around for many years and is used in commercial applications, so a “dumbed down” version was produced for a more simple application in residential and domestic properties. These documents are NFPA 13 R and NFPA 13 D.

In 1998 a draft document, DD9251, was published by BSI in conjunction with the sprinkler industry, following an upsurge in interest of the application of sprinkler systems in dwellings.
It was loosely based upon NFPA 13 R and D, and adjusted to suit UK applications as the NFPA versions were aimed more at timber built low rise homes typical of US construction methods.

The DD 9251 became a full standard in 2005 and our industry worked with this, learning along the way the shortfalls of this early version. Independently of BSI our industry formed a technical committee where those of us at the forefront of this new application were finding errors and omissions within the guidance of the 2005 version.

2 documents were published,TG1 and TG2. These were technical guidance documents produced to share with and help those coming into the industry to better understand the best practices.
In the next version of BS 9251 2014, all of the TG guidance was written in, along with more and better guidance and recommendations, as by now the industry was much more mature and had a very good understanding of best practice and better design considerations.

The nature of the industry was now changing, and more high rise multi story installation was taking place. Student accommodation also became a big demand on resources and these two new areas of work highlighted the limitations of BS 9251:2014, particularly in the area of water supply and security of provision of a water supply in high rise new (and retro) installations.

BSI decided that a further upgrade was needed to better address the needs of this developing market place, and 2 serious incidents, Lakanal house and later Grenfell Tower, showed that sprinkler systems could save lives even if they had to be retro fitted.

So BSI pushed through the latest version BS 9251 :2021, which has much more rigid guidance and higher demands upon the security of water supplies and alarm interfacing.
This has for now caught our industry out as the manufacturers of pump systems have not had time to develop pump controls that are able to meet the guidance in  BS9251:2021.

Worse still, a new standard for fire pumps by BSI is out for consultation (as at Feb 2022) and this standard contradicts some of the guidance in BS 9251,  leaving the pump manufacturers with wasted development work. This will delay further the move to getting compliant pump sets from the manufacturers, and meanwhile our industry is having to offer compromise solutions.

A final note for specifiers; BS 9251:2021 is, like all previous versions, a guidance document, not a set of rules. There is scope within specifications to vary the system specification to suit particular requirements, but one should always be cautious not to cut costs or corners without the justification of a fire engineered strategy.

Call Now Button