Sprinklers – a traditional risk management solution for a modern world

Posted on: 20 June 2019

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By Andy Miller, Technical Manager, Loss Control Engineering

General consensus suggests the first modern, recognisable sprinkler system was installed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1812 by architect William Congreve.[1] Whilst sprinkler technology has been modernised and improved in the 200 years since, the fundamental principles remain the same

A properly designed, installed and maintained automatic sprinkler system will not only detect a fire, but also control or extinguish it, minimising potential damage from fire, smoke, heat and the large volume of water that would otherwise be used by fire fighters to put the fire out. This is as relevant now as it was back in 1812, with UK fire losses recently increasing both in number and severity. In 2018, the Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) attended 181,436 fires – a 6% increase on the previous year, resulting in £1.3 billion being paid out by insurers.[2]

Aside from the potential consequences of loss of life and environmental impact, a fire can signal the death-knell for a business, affecting jobs and the local economy. Damage to stock, machinery/plant and buildings can result in a business disruption event from which a business may struggle to survive or, in a worst case scenario, cease trading. For the average cost of a sprinkler system (around £30-£35 per square metre, installed as part of a new build project), the impact could be dramatically reduced.

Sprinkler system effectiveness in combatting fires is supported by impressive safety statistics. In fact, sprinklers reduce injuries by at least 80% and property damage by 90%.[3] The UK industry trade body, the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA), records all successful sprinkler saves it is aware of, and the case studies make for persuasive reading.

Many insurance companies welcome the installation of a sufficient sprinkler system, which is often reflected in more favourable property insurance premiums, with potentially significant savings.

With so much at stake, it’s advisable for any business to consider the benefits a sprinkler system could bring and the consequences of not doing so. An old, tried and tested fire risk management solution, still very relevant in our modern world.

Visit Allianz Risk Management for more information on sprinkler systems and other fire safety measures.


This article was originally published in Modern Insurance Magazine (Issue 38). It may not be replicated in any other publications.

Andy recently recorded a video for our Allianz Experts campaign where he discussed the top risks in 2019:

Watch Andy Miller discussing current risk trends