Wavin, Chippenham

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When a small fire broke out overnight in a storage area of a major plastics manufacturer in Chippenham, an automatic sprinkler system extinguished the fire, preventing any major damage prior to the arrival of the Fire and Rescue Service. With the fire safely put out, the business was back up and running the following morning, less than 24 hours later.

The fire on the mezzanine level of a large warehouse at the Wavin manufacturing facility started when a small battery in a box of electrical components shorted and caught fire. The 2000m2 building had a sprinkler system which activated and managed to suppress and extinguish the fire, stopping it from spreading. Had the fire not been contained it would have caused significant damage to the storage facility.

Commenting on the fire, Paul Collins, Production Manager at Wavin said: “If we had not had sprinklers in this unmanned area, the potential for other materials to ignite could have led to a much larger fire within the entire warehouse. This would have caused a major issue to our stock holding of injection moulded fittings and severely impacted the business and our customers.”

As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of heating, plumbing and drainage products, Wavin has ensured their business is resilient to fire with sprinklers being a key component in their strategy.

“Our day to day operations were unaffected by the fire thanks to the sprinkler system. As only the sprinkler heads above the fire operated, water was isolated to a small area of the warehouse so the clean-up was dealt with very quickly” said Paul Collins.

The inclusion of a sprinkler system can prevent major financial and equipment losses, containing what could be a potential major disaster and turning it into a minor inconvenience. Proven time and again with consistent reliability, it is a small price to pay to prevent a business’s hard-earned success from going up in flames.

“Every building within our site at Chippenham, including all our high bay racked warehousing has sprinklers fitted. There is no doubt the cost of installing sprinklers is far outweighed by the potential disruption and financial implication of a fire in one of our facilities. By having sprinklers installed, we are protecting our business by ensuring continuity to our customers and being a responsible employer,” added Paul Collins.

Home Office figures have shown that there have been 22,800 fires in industrial and commercial premises in the past 3 years. Recent research by Cebr has shown that each year fires in warehouses alone (which are only 15% of industrial and commercial building stock) cause a direct financial loss to business of £230 million per year and result in the loss of £190 million per year in GDP through lost productivity and impacts up and down the supply chain. In addition, they lose the treasury £32 million in tax receipts and are the cause of over 1,000 job losses.

Automatic sprinkler systems offer the business owner reliable, long-lived and proven technology which can reduce the risk to life and degree of damage caused in a fire event. These systems make buildings and businesses resilient to fire incidents because they control or extinguish a fire before the fire and rescue service arrive. The impacted business can be back up and running within hours, avoiding the economic and social costs.