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Sprinklers avert major fire in Basildon shopping centre

A sprinkler system prevented a major blaze in the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Basildon last night.

Crews were called to the shopping centre at 23:35hrs on Wednesday February 5 after a fire broke out in a unit used by a local radio station.

Assistant Divisional Officer Mark Turnbull, Incident Commander, said: “When crews arrived the sprinkler suppression system had activated and that did an excellent job of containing the fire.

“There is no doubt in my mind that had it not been for that sprinkler system this would have been a huge fire involving far more of the shopping centre. The sprinklers came on in the unit, contained the fire and partially extinguished it.

“Had that sprinkler system not been there then crews would have been faced with a major blaze causing a huge amount of damage rather than a small fire affecting only one unit.”

This week is National Sprinkler Week and the Service is highlighting the importance of homes and businesses installing sprinkler systems.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Paul Hill said: “Sprinklers are proven life savers, there are no recorded cases of multiple fire deaths in premises where sprinklers are fitted.

“Incidents like this show how important sprinklers are in stopping the spread of fire. Had it not been for the sprinkler system the shopping centre could have suffered a huge amount of damage.

“Sprinklers activate and suppress the fire immediately, preventing fire from spreading and limiting the damage caused by fire.

“This incident also explodes one of the myths about sprinklers. Many people believe that when one sprinkler in a building goes off they all do, but this shows that the sprinklers only operate in the area affected by fire.”

Essex Fire Authority Chairman Cllr Anthony Hedley, who is a strong advocate of the benefits of sprinklers, visited the scene to see for himself how sprinklers had prevented fire spread.

The Service is demonstrating its commitment to the benefits of sprinklers by providing funding to help install sprinklers in the homes of the highest risk of fire.

A total of £250,000 will be used to provide match funding to fit sprinkler systems and protect the most vulnerable people in the County. The funding is available to Local Authorities, Housing Associations and Charities. Those at highest risk will be given priority access to the fund.

Applications can be made to the Service. A desktop assessment indicates sprinklers are an appropriate solution and the current position warrants further investigation then an ECFRS Fire Engineer will visit to assess suitability for the fitting of sprinklers.

If the Fire Engineer’s report and the application is approved you will be informed in writing of how much you will be awarded. The maximum award will be 50% of the cost. Grants will be paid within 30 days of a final inspection by ECFRS to ensure that the system is installed to the correct standard.

To find out more about the match funding use the form found on our website here.

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