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Fire station burns down

BY Ewen McAulay
Health & Safety
BG Orange

One place you may not expect a fire to start is in your local fire station, however this is what locals in a village in Norfolk woke up to - the devastating sight of their burnt-out fire station. 

Police officers working nearby reported the fire in Downham Market just after midnight. It started in the bay where the station's engine, costing up to £250,000 to replace, was destroyed. The investigation is underway and we all wait with bated breath on the outcome. 

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Roy Harold revealed a penchant for understatement when he told the BBC “I think there is a fire safety message there for us. The building is relatively new, but it wasn’t sprinklered.”  It should be noted that ‘relatively new’ means that the station was built in 2006, so the Fire Service had ‘only’ had 8 years to install this line of defence against an actual fire. 

The question is, would we normally expect to fix sprinklers to a single storey detached building of this type holding a single vehicle? There is certainly no law stating this as a requirement. We know it would have done the job, but this doesn’t necessarily mean all buildings of this type should be fitted with sprinklers.  Sprinkler systems can be expensive, and they bring ongoing inspection and maintenance requirements which may outweigh the benefits. 

These are the people responsible for protecting the Norfolk populace from fire, and for whatever reason they had a fire start in their unmanned fire station.  Were those protectors of the realm doing all they should have been such as fire risk assessment, fire detection systems and firefighting equipment etc?   Maybe any need for sprinklers could have been avoided?  

We would like to encourage all of our clients to keep up the good work carrying out weekly, monthly and annual inspections and trust this will not happen to you.  Unfortunately, if it can happen to the fire service it can probably happen in any of your organisational sites.

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