Blaze-hit station had no sprinklers

12 Mar 2014

A fire chief has admitted his service did not heed its own advice after an engine was ruined in a blaze at a station that did not have alarms or sprinklers.

Deputy chief fire officer Roy Harold said "the fire would've been put out very, very quickly automatically" if there had been sprinklers at the Downham Market station in Norfolk.

Residents were evacuated from their homes after police noticed the fire and firefighters had to be called in from elsewhere to tackle it. The retained station was empty when the incident happened and nobody was injured.

A probe into how the blaze started in the bay that hosts the fire engine will begin once the burned-out building is safe.

Kim Scotney, watch manager, said the impact of the incident had not yet "sunk in properly" and crews are "dumbfounded".

The town already has a new fire engine and other equipment to replace what was lost, which has been housed at a local police station.

Mr Harold told the BBC that meant local people were still covered, although a new station could cost £1.5 million and new engines are some £250,000.

He said: "Normally we go to other people's fires, but tonight we had to go to our own. I think there is a fire safety message there for us."

Had the "relatively new" station had sprinklers, he said, "we wouldn't be here today chatting about this" and the service now asks all new builds to think strongly about installing them.

Copyright Press Association 2014

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