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Last edited 01 Nov 2019
Costs of water automatic sprinkler systems
This article was originally published as part of The impact of automatic sprinklers on building design, an independent report produced by WSP, sponsored by the Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA), published in September 2017.
- Sprinkler infrastructure: equipment installation, pipework, valve sets, booster pumps and water storage = £60,000 - £80,000
- Price per sprinkler head; including pipework valves and supports = £180 per head
Whilst the infrastructure cost (£60,000-£80,000) does vary depending on the building size, it only does so in a minor fashion due to fact that automatic sprinklers are designed to operate a fixed number of heads independent of floor area. Therefore as the building grows in size, the cost associated with the infrastructure does not vary significantly. This means that the cost efficiency of automatic sprinklers generally increases with building size.
The number of sprinkler heads required varies depending principally on the type of risk to be protected (i.e. category of building type) and layout. For most building types, automatic sprinklers are orientated on a 4m x 3m ceiling grid which gives 1 sprinkler head per 12m2 but as noted above, that is an ideal situation and further heads will be required to suit internal partitions and different building footprints. Therefore 15% has been added to the above figure to give a £/m2:
- £180 per head;
- 3m x 4m coverage from a single head;
- 15% layout allowance.
- Total = £17.25/m2 GIA [note 6] + Sprinkler infrastructure (£70,000)
For a comparison the rates shown in Table 5-1 are “Shell and Core” costs for installing automatic sprinkler systems (including the water supply) for Offices with GIA between 3,000 – 15,000 m2 and hotels (2 to 5 stars). These rates highlight the variability in costs between building types.
[Table 5-1: Generic pricing – sprinkler system installation]
|Building use||Installed as part of building shell Rate /m2||Installed as part of building fit-out Rate /m2|
|Office – central London||£16.37||£21.21|
|Office – regional (average)||£14.73||£19.08|
|Warehouse ( fitted racking installed)||£42.32||n/a|
|Hotels (2 – 5*)||£20 – 30||n/a|
- Installing a sprinkler system in the office building example shown in Table 5-2 costs £316k and averages to £16.37/m2 GIA. This rate is within the generic ranges quoted earlier (i.e. £17.25/m2 + £70k and £15-20/m2).
- In another example, the costs of providing automatic sprinkler system and dry risers to a 4* hotel were £596k and averaging to £36.12/m2. In order to compare this figure (£36.12/m2) with £20-30/m2 from Table 5-1 the cost of dry risers has to be discounted leaving the rate as £26.12/m2. This rate £26.12/m2 falls almost in the middle of the generic price range shown in Table 5-1 and confidence can be placed in the values presented.
These examples demonstrate that the actual cost of installing automatic sprinkler system for each building depends on many factors, however the rates quoted in Table 5-1 can be used as a guide for estimating costs based on GIA.
[Table 5-2: Real examples of installing sprinkler system costs in different types of buildings]
Cost / m2 GIA
(inc. dry risers) = £596,000
(inc. dry risers) =
Shopping mall located in the South East comprised;
Covered car park, GIA = 13,000 m2
(inc. racking protection)= £3,174,000
 Gross Internal Area that includes; all areas occupied by internal walls and open-sided covered areas, but excludes; open balconies, open fire escapes, and open-sided covered ways. It is the total floor area of all storeys, not the building footprint area.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Automatic fire sprinkler systems: A good practice guide.
- Automatic sprinkler system design and operation.
- Business Sprinkler Alliance.
- Case study A for offices to show where automatic sprinklers have the greatest impact.
- Case study B for offices to show where automatic sprinklers have the greatest impact.
- Design benefits of automatic sprinkler systems granted under approved document B.
- Fire detection and alarm system.
- Fire detector.
- Fire in buildings.
- Fire protection engineering.
- Fire safety design.
- Overview of automatic sprinkler system design and operation
- Sprinkler systems explained: A guide to sprinkler installation standards and rules.
- The cost efficiency of different combinations of fire protection measures.
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