Flat fire saved by sprinklers

Firefighters have been praised after life-saving equipment prevented a devastating fire at an apartment complex.

Last Friday (7th January 2022), Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) received a call at 11.38pm reporting a fire at a block of flats in Newcastle.

With people potentially in the flats at the time, TWFRS’s Fire Control were quick to respond getting the first appliance on the scene in a matter of minutes.

Three other appliances attended alongside an Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP) to make access easier for the crews.

But when the crews arrived on scene they found the blaze had been successfully contained by the sprinkler system.

The occupant of the flat managed to get out safely before the crews arrived and, thanks to the sprinklers, there was minimal fire and smoke damage.

Today (Wednesday) the housing association responsible for the block of flats has thanked TWFRS for their support in installing the life-saving sprinklers.

David Langhorne, Assets and Development Director at Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), said: “There is no doubt that having the sprinkler suppression system installed at this property has significantly reduced the impact of this fire.

“Without the suppression system, the flat was minutes away from being significantly damaged and the occupants’ belongings being destroyed.

“I’d like to thank the firefighters for their professionalism and support. They liaised with YHN staff at the premises and checked over the flat to ensure the fire was fully extinguished.

“They spoke to the occupier to ensure they were fine and after the checks and a clean-up, we were soon back to business as normal.

“YHN works closely with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to ensure that fire safety in our properties is the safest it can be.

“Our investment has included an ongoing programme of fire door replacement works, as well as additional safety precautions in high rise blocks, such as thermal imaging CCTV cameras and sprinklers in rubbish chutes.

“In addition, all YHN multi-storey flats have smoke detection that is centrally monitored 24 hours a day.

“The safety and security of customers is our highest priority and we are committed to continuing this programme of investment to improve the safety of all our homes across the city.”

After thorough check of the building, and checking the occupants were okay, TWFRS began their investigation.

It was quickly determined that the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette in a bin bag, which had set fire to the waste materials within. A single sprinkler head in the kitchen activated and extinguished the fire, saving significant repair costs and possible rehousing if the fire was allowed to grow.

And today one of TWFRS’s senior firefighters has called for people to take more care when smoking in their homes.

Group Manager Ian Bell, Head of Fire Safety, said: “This incident shows how important it is to make sure cigarettes are fully extinguished and cooled before disposing of them.

“It’s also as important to have a working smoke/fire alarm and if you need one fitted you can get in touch via our website and we will come fit them in your home.

“Sprinklers play a major part in fire safety, especially in residential accommodation where it can save lives and reduce the likelihood of injuries from fire and smoke.

“The cost for the remediation work following this fire was minimal. It also negated the need to find alternative accommodation for the occupier.”