Fire chief calls for sprinkler legislation

solid_shadowA fire chief has urged for national legislation for sprinkler systems in the UK.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority Councillor David Acton pointed to how beneficial this fire safety measure had been in recent blazes.

He made the call in light of the blaze that is still being tackled at a paper recycling plant on Duncan Street in Salford, which started on March 2nd. Had the premises been equipped with a sprinkler system, there was every chance the authority would not have had to invest “significant resources”, such as specialist vehicles and around-the-clock crews, into tackling it.

The councillor also referenced two blazes that happened in Stockport, which proved sprinklers were effective in containing fires. He cited the Junction 25 fire in Bredbury that lasted for 26 days and “smouldered for a further seven when there were no sprinklers”, but that a blaze at “a similar site nearby” was extinguished within hours, as the fire safety measure had been implemented there.

That business was able to begin trading again the same day the blaze broke out as a result of the sprinklers, he claimed.

Additionally, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) wants to see sprinklers legalised, not only in premises such as these, but also in domestic properties and businesses. This is to help to reduce the number of fatalities and protect those working in such buildings.

Councillor Acton also demanded new, tougher regulation for sites that manage recycled waste.

“These sites are problematic and provide a very real danger, not only to local residents living nearby, but also the environment and not least our own firefighters, when they set on fire.”

In a bid to minimise the adverse effects of the Salford recycling plant blaze on residents, businesses and the environment, officers from GMFRS has been working with a number of partner agencies.

These include the Environment Agency, Public Health England, United Utilities, North West Ambulance Service, Network Rail, Greater Manchester Police and local authorities.

The Duncan Street fire was the third large-scale incident at a recycling site in six months.

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.