Sprinklers save Hastings Food Logistics Warehouse as fire breaks out

Sprinkler safety

When a fire broke out in the early hours at a food distribution warehouse in Hastings, an automatic sprinkler system activated and extinguished it, minimising damage and ensuring the business would be able to return to operations later that day with little disruption.

On Sunday October 4th at 6am, fire engines and firefighters from East Sussex Fire & Rescue were called to the A.F. Blakemore and Son food distribution warehouse on the Ivyhouse Lane Industrial Estate. A small fire located in a fan unit had been quickly extinguished by the sprinkler system in the 90,000 square foot warehouse. Had the fire not been contained it would have caused significant damage to this logistics business which supplies food products to a network of Spar stores across south east England.

Commenting on the fire, a spokesperson from East Sussex Fire & Rescue said: “This is a timely reminder to other companies to invest in a sprinkler system which could protect your business from severe fire damage. A sprinkler system really can make a difference. In 2019 we attended a similar fire locally which resulted in the total loss of a business – sprinklers would have made the difference.”

That business was engineering firm Drallim Industries, based in St Leonards, who are only now returning to new premises twenty months after a fire completely destroyed their factory. The fire in February 2019 meant the company had to relocate to temporary facilities. In addition to the loss of business and the disruption across the local community, the fire caused the evacuation of nearby residents and road closures.

“Sprinkler systems are designed to contain a fire, ensuring businesses are often up and running within a short period of time due to limited damage,” added the East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.

As one of the UK’s leading family-owned food retailers, A.F. Blakemore and Son has ensured their business is resilient to fire with sprinklers being a key component in their strategy.

“East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service would like to highlight the importance of such fire safety measures, as they deliver benefits that far exceed the cost of installation and maintenance.”

Home Office figures1 show that the Fire and Rescue Service in England has attended 26,800 fires in industrial and commercial buildings in the past three years. From offices to industrial buildings, healthcare facilities to hotels; the impact of a major fire can be devastating and many businesses never recover. But the cost of fire in industrial and commercial buildings goes far beyond the expense, and impacts on individual businesses and insured costs. Fires are the cause of significant economic, environmental and community costs, many of which are ultimately borne by the taxpayer.

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.

1Home Office Fire Statistics – Other Buildings Fire Dataset