A fire that broke out in an industrial unit in Suffolk in late June spread to other businesses on the estate, causing severe damage, loss of earnings and ongoing disruption. The buildings were either completely or partially destroyed, with none of the units having the benefit of an automatic sprinkler system.
The blaze broke out at the Martlesham Creek Industrial Estate on 20 June and required 10 fire crews and more than 50 firefighters to bring under control. What began as a small fire in one unit soon spread to adjacent units. The fire impacted a range of buildings with a footprint of 2,500m2. It required huge resources including an aerial ladder platform in order to contain it and prevent the fires from spreading to more businesses on the estate.
One of the businesses impacted, Triangle Nursery, was forced to temporarily cease trading for three to four weeks while new premises were sought. The other businesses impacted have not indicated their immediate plans.
Under current building regulations guidance, the building that suffered the devastating fires was not subject to any guidance for sprinklers. People are sometimes confused by this as they see the consequences of the fire, the scale of the fire service response and are told there is no guidance in current regulations to limit this and wonder how this can be.
Halting the spread of fire when it is first detected is the best way to limit damage and minimise costs and impacts. Sprinklers have been shown to contain, control or extinguish fires in 99% of cases when caused to operate.1 The impacted business can be operational within hours, avoiding the economic and social costs.
Having sprinklers fitted would have protected these businesses in the long run. They safeguard against potentially disastrous losses and also aid life safety. By preventing large fires, sprinklers also protect the environment by avoiding CO2 emissions, reducing excess water use by the fire brigade and eliminating water-supply contamination. Above all, they maintain business continuity. In the event of a fire, many businesses with sprinkler systems find they are back up and running in a matter of hours.
For more information about the BSA visit the www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org
- Efficiency and Effectiveness of Sprinkler Systems in the United Kingdom: An Analysis from Fire Service Data – Optimal Economics May 2017