Compulsory sprinklers needed for warehouses, says ABI as average payout for commercial fires breaks £25,000 barrier

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The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has ca;ed for sprinklers to be made a legal requirement in all new warehouses over 2000m2, as average pay outs for commercial fires break the £25,000 barrier for the first time.

ABI figures show the average commercial fire claim has risen 165% since 2004 to more than £25,000. However, guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for fire sprinkler installation only recommends that warehouses in England and Wales should be provided with a fire sprinkler system if they are larger than 20,000m2.

The ABI says that these limited regulatory requirements mean that only 20% of warehouses between 2,000 and 10,000m2 are fitted with fire sprinklers.

James Dalton, ABI director of general insurance policy, said: “This year marks the 350th commemoration of the Great Fire of London, and our approach to sprinklers remains stuck in the past. While the number of fires continues to fall, it is alarming that the average cost is rising so sharply.

“As the Great Fire so strongly demonstrated, failure to prepare buildings to withstand fire can lead to large scale destruction. The benefits of sprinklers are clear and it is time to make them a compulsory part of every high-risk building, particularly warehouses.”

Legislation is already in place in a number of European countries to require fire sprinklers to be installed in commercial and industrial properties which are significantly smaller than current Government guidelines.

In the Netherlands the threshold is 1,000m2 and in France it is 3,000m2.

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Marek Handzel

Marek Handzel is the editor of Claims Magazine. Marek welcomes articles, letters, or feedback from readers and can be reached by emailing marek.handzel@barkerbrooks.co.uk