Sprinkler systems for companies
Although firms can insure against the consequences of a fire, coverage requirements are increasing. Sprinkler systems put companies in a good position.
‘When push comes to shove, a sprinkler system can protect business owners from the loss of entire buildings.’
It was meant to be a smart move: at Miami Airport, a bad guy activates a sprinkler system in an attempt to evade his pursuer. The airport is under water in a matter of seconds. However, the villain has underestimated James Bond, who is easily able to give chase and avert disaster despite the slippery conditions. While it may come as a disappointment to film fans, scenes like this one from Casino Royale are only found in Hollywood. In reality, sprinkler systems only extinguish in areas where there are actually flames. In 2016 alone, more than 80 per cent of all successful extinguishing operations reported to German fire safety association the bvfa were carried out by sprinkler systems with just one or two sprinklers.
Sprinkler systems can protect from loss of entire buildings
Nevertheless, sprinkler systems are frequently not installed in buildings, warehouses and production facilities, with arguments such as ‘too expensive’, ‘too complicated to mount’ and ‘severe water damage if they are deployed’ used against such systems. They are a sensible investment in the woodworking, plastics, paper and pulp industries, as well as at companies with large storage facilities and valuable inventories. And as fire protection engineer Tobias Kahlo explains, water damage can also be prevented: ‘The sprinkler nozzles are fitted with temperature-sensitive glass bulbs or fusible links that are only activated when a predefined temperature is exceeded. Otherwise, they remain closed.’
Sprinkler systems initiate extinguishing efforts immediately
Sprinkler systems detect fires extremely quickly and initiate extinguishing efforts immediately. They have therefore proved their mettle as reliable fire-fighting tools in companies and industrial facilities. As Christian Pietsch explains: ‘The claims statistics of one insurer demonstrate that the damage is four to five times less severe in companies with a sprinkler system than in those without.’
The authorities have developed fire safety requirements for companies that are designed to limit the damage and ensure safety. The primary objective of these requirements is to protect people, with operational interruptions and the protection of property not always factored in. Therefore, these requirements do not always reflect the risk profile of a company and, in particular, the expectations of property insurers when it comes to the level of protection. Funk advises companies on their fire protection measures and examines the extent to which the use of a sprinkler system can influence insurance coverage. As fire protection engineer Tobias Kahlo explains: ‘While the likelihood of a fire breaking out has not changed, the damage is much more severe than it was just a few years ago. As the value of claims submitted to insurers kept increasing, they changed their underwriting guidelines. Depending on the type of company and the property value involved, sprinkler systems are often a prerequisite for a risk to be underwritten in the first place.’