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Fire Funded Sprinklers Installed at Autism Plus

Thanks to funding from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority potentially lifesaving equipment has been installed in a residential living home at Autism Plus in Thorne.

The Thorne House property, once the home of Thorne brewery owners the Darley family, is divided into five apartments, offering 24 hour support to adults with autism and learning disabilities.

All five apartments including communal spaces are protected with the existing fire alarm system combined with the sprinkler protection following the installation, which was completed earlier this year. 

The works were carefully planned and communicated to the people living at Thorne House and in partnership with a specialist fire protection company to ensure that anyone affected by the noise of building work, unfamiliar visitors and disruption to daily routines was kept to a minimum.

Thorne House was built in 1899 and is in a conservation area so it was important the works did not impact upon the architectural features of the property. All the pipework and sprinkler heads were concealed and fitting into the decoration and features of each room. Fire officers say the installation is proof of their commitment to championing the use of sprinklers in higher risk, residential settings.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “Sprinklers are a cost effective way of making homes safer – they stop fires from spreading, put them out quickly and save lives. We are especially concerned about those people who are most at risk of fire such as those with mobility or mental health issues or people with dementia who may not know how to react, or be able to react quickly enough, if they hear a smoke alarm.

“We play a key leadership role in helping people to better understand the benefits of sprinklers as part our commitment to reduce the impact of fire on people, property and the environment. This scheme, despite its obvious challenges, is proof of the fact that these potentially life saving devices can be fitted in almost any setting.

The fire service last year announced a  £1 million fund to encourage more housing providers to install them in buildings lived in by those residents most at risk from fire.

SYFR is one of the leading fire services in the country for its pioneering use of sprinklers in high risk residential settings, leading a UK first project to retrofit an automated system at the Callow Mount block of flats in Gleadless. That scheme is now internationally recognised for the improved safety it offers the people living within the building.

It has also worked alongside Sheffield City Council to make more than 540 properties in the city safer by installing lifesaving sprinkler systems at council owned flats in Gleadless Valley, Westfield, Stannington and Netherthorpe. This project was another UK first.

The installation of sprinkler systems in new build homes is now mandatory in Wales and SYFR is actively promoting the use of this type of protection in all types of buildings to build resilience and safety into local communities.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority’s sprinkler fund is open to any social or private housing provider. It will part fund those projects which demonstrate the best value and innovation in protecting the most vulnerable people possible from fire.  It forms part of the Stronger Safer Communities Reserve, with money set aside from the Authority’s reserves. Autism Plus won £159,000 in funding from the Fire Authority for this scheme. For more information, visit