A major fire that destroyed an unsprinklered recycling plant in Nottingham led to disruption in the local area, asbestos warnings and unnecessary damage to the environment.

The fire on January 31st at Nottingham Recycling on Abbeyfield Road in Lenton required 60 firefighters, 12 appliances and specialist equipment including aerial ladder platforms, high volume pumps from Nottingham Fire and Rescue to tackle the blaze.

While there were no reported injuries in the blaze and the surrounding businesses were not in use at the time, the impact on the local community and environment was significant with the closure of a major ‘A’ road, residents forced to close windows and doors due to harmful smoke and a number of measures employed to minimise the impact of pollution to the local environment. What remains of the circa 1700m2 building used to recycle waste cardboard will be demolished and disposed of.

The fire at Nottingham Recycling centre was one of many recycling fires in the UK in the past 12 months. All were typified by large numbers of firefighters being required to contain a blaze where there was a presence of a high fire load due to highly combustible materials.

Each event developed high volumes of smoke and contained harmful contaminants. Furthermore, fire water run-off needed to be monitored by the relevant agency and there is the environmental impact of disposing of the damaged properties and the costs, resources and materials required to repair and rebuild them.

These fires not only pose an obvious danger to the health of those nearby, but they also have major environmental implications and significant costs to businesses due to property loss.

Preventing large costly fires is possible through a combination of strategies. One of the most effective strategies is the use of sprinkler systems which contain and control fires before the Fire and Rescue Service arrives. They therefore minimise the wider impact of unmanageable fires, reducing costs to business and the economy as a whole. Importantly, by limiting any fire damage, they allow businesses to resume operations quickly, often within hours of the incident. This was adequately demonstrated by a fire at a Biffa waste site in Irlam in January 2021. Fire sprinklers fitted at the site activated, quickly putting the fire out and minimising the damage caused as a result of the incident.

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