A Cautionary Tale
The Business Sprinkler Alliance comments on a recent fire at an unsprinklered warehouse in Coventry in the United Kingdom which was attended by ten fire engines and 70 firefighters.
Warwickshire and West Midlands Fire Service have confirmed the fire, which took place on 19th August, completely destroyed the RAM Enterprise building at Prologis Park.
None of the 25 members of the staff at the warehouse which stored household products were injured in the blaze in Ash Green, however, with the fire and rescue service able to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent businesses after a high-volume pump and a local lake were used to support the flow of water to the fire which saw large smoke plumes across south Northamptonshire.
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Services Area Manager, Paul Morley, explains: "Our crews were called to the incident at around 5pm. Unfortunately, the building was well alight on arrival, but crews acted quickly to contain the fire and stop it spreading to a neighbouring business.
"There was a large smoke plume due to the severity of the fire and residents living in the local area were advised to close windows and doors."
Four days after the incident, the building was demolished so that the fire crews could access the remaining seats of the smaller fires inside. Environment Agency staff were called to monitor the potential threat of contaminated water run-off polluting nearby watercourses with reports of dead fish. The local community has also felt the impact of the fire with traffic disruption and smoke warnings issued following the blaze.
Sadly, fires such as this occur on a regular basis and remain one of the leading causes of commercial property loss. This building was 2,500m2 and required a huge effort to contain the fire event, but they could not save the building.
Surprisingly for many, buildings up to eight times larger can legally be constructed in the United Kingdom without requiring guidance on the installation of automatic sprinkler protection.
Having sprinklers fitted makes buildings and businesses resilient to the impact of fire because they automatically control or even put out the fire before the fire service arrives. In most cases, this results in businesses being up-and-running again, usually within hours of the incident.