Business Sprinkler Alliance


Fibreglass mouldings factory set for rebuild following devastating fire

An unsprinklered fibreglass mouldings factory in Suffolk destroyed by a major fire in 2020 will now be rebuilt.  Following their insurance claim and ongoing disruption to its business, Hatcher Components has applied for planning permission for a new production facility at its site in Parnham. It is a harsh lesson in overcoming adversity but poses questions as to why key resilience measures like sprinkler systems are not common to mitigate such events?

The fire on August 13th 2020 at the unsprinklered Hatcher Components production facility led to destruction of the factory and storage area. Fifty firefighters from the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service attended the fire but were unable to save the building.

The blaze was caused by overheated machinery and brought disruption to local businesses and nearby residents were advised to keep windows and doors closed due to hazardous materials exploding and large plumes of thick black smoke. While no one was injured, the business – which has another site in Framlingham - lost 50% of its production capability and struggled to maintain large orders. Staff needed to work excessive overtime whilst management had to outsource work which was both inefficient and costly.

There is much to be said about business continuity in the event of a major disruption such as fire, but this needs to be part of a wider risk management strategy. Judging by the many fires across the commercial sector, there is a disconnect between the business continuity plan and the mitigation gained from actively protecting assets. If one of the big risks is the fact that you might lose a factory which is critical to your whole operation to a fire – and you have not considered how to protect it – then your disaster recovery will mean you will have to find new premises, machinery and logistics in order to recover.  This is exactly what happened to the Hatcher Components production facility.

A more successful strategy would be to protect the very critical elements of its operation which are vulnerable in the first place with systems such as sprinklers. It is clear that resilience has been assumed to be covered by the particular goal of compliance with regulations, but unfortunately key stakeholders cannot see that this is not always the case.

Sadly, fires such as the one that occurred at Hatcher Components occur on a regular basis and remain one of the leading causes of property loss. If the businesses come back, rebuild times of over 12 months are not uncommon and utilising temporary space is often hampered by similar delays for the delivery of new machinery. 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 an effective investment to prevent a business’s hard-earned success from going up in flames.

Image Credit: Google Maps

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