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Fire Sprinklers

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 8 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the policy is of his Department with regard to the fitting of fire sprinkler systems in (a) forensic hospitals and (b) prisons. (71021)

The Home Department is responsible for fire safety policy in prisons, and the Department of Health has this responsibility for high and medium security psychiatric hospitals.

In prison cells, the usefulness of sprinklers is unproven as they pose practical and operational implementation difficulties and are costly and difficult to install, particularly in existing establishments. A policy regarding the use of sprinklers is to be determined in the context of an overall prison fire safety strategy. Sprinklers have been fitted in some prisons in high-risk areas such as kitchens and hospitals.

In the three high security psychiatric hospitals, no sprinklers have been fitted. The design guide for medium secure psychiatric units does not specifically mention sprinklers. Instead, building designs include measures such as fire compartmentation and easy horizontal evacuation to places of safety.