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In specifying an innovative fire system in its latest new home, custom housebuilder Belvedere has become one of the few developers to use this targeted method of fire suppression in a new build, private dwelling, as a standard feature. As a result, Belvedere is enjoying the benefits of significant creative freedom in introducing striking interior features that would not have been possible within building regulations using standard fire detection.

Belvedere is currently building individual properties ranging from 4,500 sq ft to over 14,000 sq ft in South Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Surrey. Willowbrook is a bespoke 6,300 ft property on Nuns Walk, Wentworth, Surrey. Set in three quarters of an acre, the property is an elegantly proportioned family home with six bedrooms over three floors.

At Willowbrook, Belvedere has taken the bar to another level by specifying a highly effective advanced fire sprinkler system that employs immediate targeted fire suppression. By providing a fine water spray to a localised area, the system will typically use less than a tenth of the water that the fire services would use to attack a fire. The system, provided by Firefighter Limited, will contain the spread of fire with the reduced risk of water damage. Fire detection and suppression with this system is immediate, whereas the average response time for a fire service callout is between seven and 15 minutes.

In using this system Belvedere has been able to introduce a significant amount of glass into the infrastructure of the building, including glass balustrades to the staircase and landing, an inspirational floating glass bathroom and the extensive use of glass doors. Standard hard-wired smoke detection is also installed.

Keith Da Costa of Belvedere said: “Belvedere is a pioneering housebuilder and I have no doubt that this fire system will be widely used in this context. We have pushed the parameters with the use of fire technology and cutting edge design and the result is outstanding.”

Architect Stan Beanland, of Ipswich-based Beanland Associates said: “In the domestic arena the system Belvedere has selected is the most advanced of its type and to my knowledge has not been specified before in a single dwelling. The diffused water application allows the flexibility of the extensive use of glass in doors as an architectural feature, so, for example, we can design the hallway as a living space rather than a corridor. The image of sprinklers is that they deluge the property in water but this is not actually what happens. Before the new legislation, the stairs had to be segregated, now, we can use a glazed door with a sprinkler device directed on the door instead of a solid fire door with automatic door closers.”

Fire industry consensus is in favour of BS9251 fire suppression systems. Advances in sprinkler technology show that a dramatic drop in the number of fatalities from fire is achievable with the benefit of increased safety for fire-fighters. Also, sprinklers make a house more ‘user friendly’ especially over three floors, enabling a more open plan design. Sprinkler heads are activated by heat from the fire and only the sprinkler in the immediate vicinity of the fire will actually operate; not all sprinklers operate simultaneously as is often depicted in films. Sprinkler systems also utilise mains water pressure and in new build property sprinkler heads can be completely concealed.

Willowbrook is on the market with local agent Buckinghams at £2.95m and is scheduled to be completed in October 2007. www.belvedere.uk.com

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Picture caption: Willowbrook, Virginia Water, where Belvedere is creating an inspired interior featuring extensive use of glass, glazed staircase panels and a ‘floating’ glass bathroom due to an innovative approach to fire detection and suppression.

SPRINKLERS – THE FACTS

- There has not been a single fatality in the UK as a result of a fire in a building with a working sprinkler system.
- US experience shows that 98% of all fires in dwellings fitted with a sprinkler system are extinguished with only one sprinkler head operating.
- Buildings fitted with a sprinkler prevent fire-fighter’s deaths.
- Sprinklers are manufactured to exacting standards and the chance of a single head malfunction is around 16,000,000 to one.
- Alarm switches can be built into the system to call the fire services in the event of the system being activated.
- Sprinklers are not unsightly or expensive to install. Figures are quoted at between 1% & 3% for a new build or as little as £2,000 for a new build house of approximately 1,700 sq ft.
- In fire tests started in a house without sprinklers, the fire soon started to take hold and large volumes of smoke filled the house. In the house with a sprinkler system, there was no need for fire brigade intervention. The sprinkler system quickly activated to bring the fire under control and extinguish it.
- Sprinkler systems are increasingly being specified in schools, houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) and the domestic properties of vulnerable groups, such as the elderly.
- In April 2007 residential sprinkler systems were introduced into Part B Building regulations.

For years the fire services have been plagued by false alarms from automatic fire detection equipment. The annual bill, according to the World Fire Statistics Centre, for UK property losses, is in excess of £1billion. Fire sprinklers do not produce false alarms and will only respond to a real fire.

Press enquiries:
Judith Edwards
Ident
Tel: 01344 620205
M: 07899 806571
Judith.edwards3@btinternet.com

PR 2 07 07
5 July 2007

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