Fire crews from the Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service were called to a massive fire at a commercial building in South Wigston. The early morning blaze at Paragon destroyed much of the facility and will result in work being redistributed and staff redeployed at other locations in the wider group. The building did not have the benefit of an automatic sprinkler system.
The June 15th blaze broke out at the Paragon Building in Saffron Road and required 11 fire crews and more than 100 firefighters from the Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service to contain it. The large demand for water to tackle the fire was supported by drawing from the Grand Union Canal and pumping it one kilometre to the site. There were several buildings impacted by the fire which required huge resources including an aerial ladder platform in order to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby businesses. Local residents had to contend with large plumes of smoke shortly after the fire broke out.
While the business reports 250 people employed at this inbound mail processing facility, there were 134 present at the site that day. Thankfully, there were no reported injuries in the blaze. The impact on the local community and environment was significant with local road closures, trains halted and nearby residents forced to close windows and doors. There were a number of measures employed to minimise the impact of pollution to the local environment.
The business was reported to be initiating a business contingency plan to manage the impact of this catastrophic fire. What remains of their sprawling 15,000m2 facility is reported to need to be demolished and disposed of.
This fire is perhaps one of the largest of recent weeks consuming much of a 15,000m2 facility. Many people would be surprised by the scale of the fire given that it was a commercial mail handling operation. However, it is not alone in impacting a company and its operations. Another two businesses counting the cost and damage of a destructive fire are on an industrial estate in Corby. In the early hours of April 25th, fire crews from Northampton Fire and Rescue Service were called to a major fire in a warehouse unit which housed two businesses. This building was a modestly sized floor area of about 2,000m2. At the height of the blaze, there were nine fire engines tackling the flames with appliances from Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire. The fire and rescue service contained the fire but were unable to save the building which was completely destroyed.
Halting the spread of fire when it is first detected is the best way to limit damage and minimise costs and impacts. Sprinklers have been shown to contain, control or extinguish fires in 99% of cases when caused to operate1. The impacted business can be operational within hours, avoiding the economic and social costs.
Commercial and industrial fires such as these once again underscore the need for an increased emphasis of resilience alongside life safety as a reasonable requirement. Recognising this importance would result in more buildings being designed and constructed to withstand disproportionate damage, using combinations of passive and active fire safety measures.
For more information about the BSA visit the www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org
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