A fire that engulfed a four-storey self-storage warehouse in Croydon on New Year’s Eve, destroying 1198 rented units, has once again brought into sharp focus the wider impact of fire and the vulnerability of unsprinklered buildings.
About 125 firefighters and 20 fire engines were called to battle the blaze at the Shurgard self-storage facility in Purley Way. Thankfully, there were no fatalities, but the wider impact to the hundreds of people who had rented units and lost stored goods will be felt long after the fire was extinguished by the fire and rescue service.
According to Graham Ellis, Assistant Commissioner of London Fire Brigade, the fire was ‘challenging’ to contain due to the large quantity of furniture and materials which are normally tightly-packed into facilities of this type. He said: “These incidents create large fires that burn hard for a long time, creating a lot of smoke.”
Shurgard customers included Marianne Georgiou, who lost all of her worldly belongings and Giacomo Malvermi, a business owner, whose business is likely to close having lost his stock of irreplaceable vintage pinball machines in the blaze.
In addition to the hundreds of people whose possessions were destroyed in the fire, its impact was felt in nearby residential areas with large plumes of smoke threatening air quality and transport congestion due to road closures.
It’s another painful reminder that fire does not discriminate; whether it is a self-storage warehouse, a university, a car park or an office, fires happen on a regular basis. However, they can be contained and extinguished by systems such as sprinklers to ensure that life is not put at risk and businesses, jobs and the economy are protected.
“Whilst thankfully no lives have been lost, there are many that will be affected by this fire,” said Iain Cox, Chairman of the Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA). “There will be hundreds of insurance claims for lost possessions. In addition, Shurgard have said the building will require demolition and possible rebuild. The cost and environmental impact of this will be significant.”
“Sprinklers are a proven method of controlling fires. They allow fire crews the time to safely gain access and extinguish fire and we welcome their consideration as a way of ensuring that properties of all types are adequately protected.”
For more information about the Business Sprinkler Alliance visit www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org