St Leonards blaze: Fire service highlights benefits of sprinklers after firm’s factory is destroyed

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is reminding businesses of the benefits of sprinklers after a fire destroyed a large business property in St Leonards.

At 9:04pm on Saturday, February 9, firefighters from Hastings, The Ridge, Bexhill, Battle, Broad Oak, Pevensey and an Aerial Ladder Platform from Brighton were called to a fire in an industrial building belonging to engineering firm Drallim Industries, on Drury Lane, St Leonards.

Firefighters at the scene. Photo by Dan Jessup

Firefighters at the scene. Photo by Dan Jessup

READ: St Leonards blaze: Business speaks of ‘devastating blow’ after factory is destroyed

Despite early reports of the fire via the fire alarm company and the fire service arriving on the scene within a matter of minutes, due to rapid fire spread and the building storing gas cylinders which exploded, firefighters had to withdraw to a safe distance and evacuate a number of adjacent residential properties.

Residents who were evacuated were supported by Hastings Borough Council who set up a temporary rest centre for those affected.

Crews remained at the scene overnight with residents allowed to return to their properties in the early hours of this morning (Sunday, February 10), although residents were instructed to keep all doors and windows closed due to the residual smoke from the building.

The building on Drury Lane. Photo courtesy of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. SUS-191002-193914001

The building on Drury Lane. Photo courtesy of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. SUS-191002-193914001

Andrew Gausden, business safety manager at ESFRS, said: “This fire demonstrates that despite early warning, fire can quickly spread and destroy your business.

“Fire costs UK businesses millions of pounds, from property damage, loss of business and insurance premiums. Business continuity planning is a key element to keeping your business safe from fire and sprinklers are a cost effective way to control a fire in the early stages.”

The fire service said the average cost of a fire in a domestic property is estimated at £44,523 but commercial fires cost more than £2billion to the UK’s economy every year. The Department for Communities and Local Government estimates the cost of a fire fatality at £1.65million.

An East Sussex Fire and Rescue Spokesman said: “Not every fire sprinkler goes off when there is a fire. It is common for just one or two sprinklers to control a fire until the fire service arrives.

“Fire sprinklers respond to heat. Once activated, a sprinkler delivers water directly to the fire and can set off an alarm to evacuate occupants and alert the local fire service.

“Fire sprinklers are cost beneficial to install. The cost of sprinklers is a small fraction of the potential risks and costs associated with a fire.”

For more information regarding the benefits of sprinklers visit www.esfrs.org/business/sprinklers/.

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