An automatic sprinkler system has helped to control and extinguish a fire at one of the UK’s largest shopping centres, helping to minimise damage and ensure it remains fully open on the busy run up to Christmas.
With over 336 retail outlets and serving 45 million customers a year, Westfield Shopping centre in Stratford is one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. The centre has a retail floor area of 150,000 m² (1.615m ft²), the equivalent of about 30 football pitches. At the time of its opening, it was reported to be the second largest commercial centre in the UK after the Metro Centre near Newcastle.
Three fire engines and 14 firefighters and officers were called to the fire which originated in service area on the second floor. It has been reported that a limited amount of stock was damaged but the fire was contained due to the sprinkler systems activating, stopping it from spreading and causing more damage.
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “This fire highlights the clear benefits of having sprinkler systems installed. In this case, the sprinkler system has controlled and extinguished the fire, preventing thousands of pounds worth of damage to the building and the businesses inside. Sprinklers are proven to save lives and property and also allow businesses to get back to normal as soon as possible by minimising disruption.”
Without a sprinkler system the damage to the building could have been catastrophic. As well as putting the lives of the shoppers and employees at risk, damage to retail units could have seen considerable interruption to businesses. With this the busiest period of the year on the run up to Christmas the effect on businesses could have been considerable.
Westfield Stratford was opened in October 2008 by developer the Westfield Group. At the time of opening as well as offering a mammoth retail space it also provided 1.1 million ft2 of office space, the UK’s largest casino, three hotels, over 50 restaurants, 5,000 parking spaces, its own bus station and a 17-screen 3D cinema.