ONGOING UPDATES: Fires in Recycling Plants: Is it time legislation is reviewed?

Fires at recycling plants appear to be on the increase.  Many of these fires impact on the local environment and economies as well as the recycling businesses themselves.  There have been many occasions now when local residents are asked to evacuate the vicinity; often roads or rail can be affected too.  Instances of asbestos in the environment and acrid smoke are commonplace.  Is it time that legislation is reviewed?

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Sprinklers Stop Fire: Care Home, Dartford

Sprinklers successfully stopped and extinguished a fire in a Dartford Care Home in the early hours of 23rd September.  The fire started in a laundry room and was fully put out before the arrival of Kent Fire and Rescue Service.

The sprinklers prevented any necessity for re-homing of its residents and allowed business to continue uninterrupted.

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Sprinklers Stop Fire: Primark, Aberdeen

A popular retail store in Aberdeen was saved from a major fire by the successful operation of a Fire Sprinkler System.  The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service received an emergency call at 9.40am on Thursday 12/09/13. Upon arrival, the Sprinkler System had fully extinguished the flames which originated on the 2nd floor of the store.  The Sprinkler System potentially prevented risk to lives and total destruction of the store and it’s adjoining neighbours.

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Environment Agency issue warnings to Waste Recycling Facilities

The Environment Agency has issued warnings to Waste Recycling Facilities that licence fees may increase for sites with ‘poorly managed’ fire risks.

A fire prevention guide and letter has been published and if the Agency deem that these standards are not adhered to then subsistence charges may increase by 300%.  Reductions of 5% could also be granted should the standards be met.

In a letter to firms headed ‘Are you doing enough to prevent fire at your waste site?’ the Agency explained: “We’re asking you to think about the impact of fire on your business, your reputation, your neighbours and your environment. Recent experience shows that large fires in stockpiled waste produce plumes of dense black smoke that impact on surrounding businesses, communities and transport routes. Contaminated water from fire-fighting threatens nearby rivers and site clearance is costly and time consuming. Prevention is better than cure – make sure you are prepared.”

It continued: “In your written procedures you’ll include the steps you’re taking to both prevent fires and to minimise the impact of an accident. We’ll be checking these procedures and the way you follow them, to make sure that they are as good as they can be.”

In the wake of the a recent Stockport blaze, Roy Wilsher, operations director for the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) said: “The recent fires in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester serve as a stark reminder to us all of the fire risk associated with waste and recycling sites. In 2012 there were over 300 fires at such sites, many of which required a huge effort from the local Fire and Rescue Service to contain the fire, which can burn for days or even weeks.”

Reported by letsrecycle.com

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Sprinklers Stop Fire: Gateshead School

A school in Gateshead has been saved from being destroyed by a fire thanks to its sprinkler suppression systems.

This is in stark contrast to a school in Leyland, Lancashire which had a fire just days later (2 September) and has been almost completely destroyed, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage, millions of pounds to re-build and disrupting the education of hundreds of children. 

The fire at Cardinal Hume Catholic School in Wrekenton, Gateshead started in an electrical IT server cupboard on the first floor of the school on Thursday 22 August.
 
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s Control Room received a call at 17.26. Within minutes three fire appliances arrived; one each from Gateshead, Birtley and Newcastle Central Community Fire Stations. An Operational Support Unit from Gateshead Community Fire Station also attended to assist with the clean up following the fire. 

A child passing by the school spotted smoke issuing from the building ventilation system and called the fire and rescue service.

The school was unoccupied at the time of the fire. Firefighters had to break entry into the building where the fire was. Thanks to the sprinkler system the fire had already been extinguished. The fire caused significant damage to the IT server equipment but was stopped from spreading further due to the school’s sprinkler system. 

Head Teacher at Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Mr Hurn, said: “There is no doubt that having the sprinkler suppression system has significantly reduced the impact of the fire. The fire in the IT server cupboard could easily have spread to other items nearby and the rest of the school. The consequences of which are unthinkable – not only would it have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage but it would have caused real difficulties for the children in terms of delivering their education and the local community of which we are a part.
 
“I’d like to thank the firefighters for their support. They checked the fire was extinguished and assisted in clearing up the majority of the damage which has helped us to get back and running for the start of the new school year.”

“Fire safety is something you take for granted when you don’t need it, but when you do it is invaluable – it’s saved our school, the continuity of education of our pupils, workplace for our staff and a local community venue.”

Area Manager Kevin Hepple, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This is an excellent example of the huge benefits sprinklers bring. The images of the school fire in Leyland were really shocking and showed how quickly a fire can spread and how much damage can be caused, not only to the building but to the school children’s education and community as a whole. Thankfully due to the sprinkler system in Cardinal Hume this didn’t happen here.” 

Cllr Gary Haley, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority member  said: “Sprinklers play a major part in fire safety; suppressing the fire, reducing its size and stopping it from spreading. Sprinklers are not only life savers but have ensured this school has been able to open in time for the start of an important year for the pupils at this school, unlike those in Leyland.”  

Reported by Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service

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Fire Chief Renews Calls For Sprinkler Systems

Warwickshire’s Chief Fire Officer, Andy Hickmott has today renewed the call for sprinklers to be fitted in schools, social housing, new builds and high rise buildings.

This comes following a blaze that destroyed St Mary’s Catholic College in Lancashire which had no sprinkler system in place and is said to have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.

Warwickshire’s fire service has been campaigning for greater numbers of sprinklers to be fitted since the launch of its ‘Sprinklers for Life’ campaign in June 2010.

Andy Hickmott, Warwickshire’s Chief Fire Officer, said he believes that the measure could significantly reduce the number of similar destructions to property and tragic loss of lives.

“I am convinced that the benefit of sprinkler systems is still not fully realised. Whether it is to save life in domestic fires, or to protect buildings like schools from arson attacks, sprinklers should be fitted in a far wider range of buildings than they currently are – mainly because in the UK our current building regulations sadly lag far behind other countries.

“Not only do sprinklers virtually eliminate the risk of fire becoming fatal, they make the work of firefighters massively safer and put a quick and early stop to the destructive spread of fires.”

Reported by AboutMyArea.co.uk

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Sprinkler Stop: Textiles Mill, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Firefighters were called to a textiles mill in Scout Hill today (Wednesday) after a piece of machinery caught fire.

Two crews from Dewsbury Fire Station went to G Wilson Fibres Limited in Scout Hill Road at 6.40am.

Watch commander Tim Pallister said: “The smoke level was almost down to the ground so visibility was really hard.  The team went in wearing breathing apparatus and discovered it was more smoke than fire. It was still quite a bad fire though.  They cleared the smoke when dealt with the fire.”

Only the machinery, a small amount of stock and a small section of the roof was damaged thanks to a sprinkler system fitted by the company.

Manager Richard Wilson said: “We’re not sure how the fire started at the moment, possibly an electrical fault.  It’s going to have minimal impact. It’s one machine and a little bit of remedial work will be carried out.  We’re thankful for the sprinkler system and the fire station. I know they’re talking about shutting it, but we’re grateful it’s exists and they were there to help us. They were here in about a minute!”

The station in Huddersfield Road is due to be merged with Batley Fire Station as part of cost-cutting plans.  West Yorkshire Fire Service has planning permission for a new joint station in Bradford Road, Dewsbury, although construction work is yet to begin.

As reported in the Dewsbury Reporter.

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Successful campaign to install Sprinkler systems in new-builds and tower blocks in Widnes and Runcorn

A campaign to install sprinkler systems in high-rise buildings has won the backing of Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board.

The executive board, the main decision-making body of the Council, heard that firefighters believe in the benefits of the water systems and are committed to promoting them.

It was reported that England had fallen behind the rest of the UK in terms of its safety regulations after Scotland and Wales approved legislation to require sprinklers in certain buildings.

Cheshire Fire Authority has urged landlords and businesses to install sprinkler systems for some time.

It has also provided funding for installations in tower blocks in Halton and the wider area.

Authority members have earmarked £160,000 to work with housing associations on retro-fitting systems for at least one block of flats in each of the four Cheshire council areas.

Cllr Stef Nelson, Cheshire Fire Authority chairman, said: “I am delighted with this decision.

“Smoke detectors, which are now mandatory in all new-builds, have gone a long way to reduce the number of fire-related deaths – but one death is still one too many.

“Sprinkler systems are proven to save lives and property as well as improving firefighter safety, reducing the amount of damage and limiting the impact on the environment.”

Runcorn & Widness Weekly News

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West Midlands FRS urge firms to fit Sprinkler Systems

The following is a press statement released by West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service on Monday 12th August 2013:

 

Businesses throughout the West Midlands are being urged to fit water sprinklers, after they saved a Wolverhampton factory from being destroyed by fire.

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The devastating effects of a fire at a Recycling Facility

 A superb and interesting video made by West Midlands FRS highlighting the devastating effects of the recent fire at Jayplas Recycling in Smethwick, West Midlands.

#smethwickfire from West Midlands Fire Service

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Sprinklers stop fire: North Wales tissue factory

It has been confirmed that a fire in a tissue factory in North Wales last week was contained by its sprinkler system. Friction in a machine caused paper to catch light in the Shotton facility, which caused sprinklers to activate.

The fire had occurred in a 20m x 10m tissue making machine at the 11,250m² single storey building of steel frame construction, with metal clad roof.

Ten heads on the tank and pump fed system operated and limited fire damage to the machine in question. It is reported that 3% of the machinery was damaged with smoke affecting 30% of the building.

Iain Cox, Chairman of the Business Sprinkler Alliance said: “It is clear that without the sprinkler system in place, the fire would have taken hold and the factory would have sustained a lot more damage, or even suffered a total loss. With the sprinklers in place, the FRS were able to keep the damage to only 10% of the building’s contents.”

Reported by the Business Sprinkler Alliance

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