By Iain Cox, Chair of Business Sprinkler Alliance
Firefighters were called to a huge fire at a large manufacturing facility near Mold in Flintshire. The devastating blaze tore through the XPS foam factory at an industrial estate close to the village of Rhydymwyn.
The fire on 25 October broke out at the Antelope Industrial Estate around 8am and required over 40 firefighters, six appliances and specialist equipment including aerial ladder platforms from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service to tackle the blaze. Local residents reported hearing explosions and the fire sent plumes of toxic black smoke over the surrounding villages. A worker at the factory, which manufactures foam underlays, was injured and conveyed by road to Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Considerable resources were used by the fire and rescue service to control the fire. The impact on the local community and environment was significant, with local road closures and a number of measures employed to minimise the impact of pollution to the local environment. Public Health Wales advised local residents to keep their windows and doors closed due to harmful smoke and needed to monitor the impact on air quality and local watercourses.
Fire chiefs later confirmed there was 100% damage to the 2400m2 building. Its disposal will cause an adverse environmental impact, while the materials and resources required to repair and rebuild it will incur significant financial costs.
History shows that fire can have an impact on business and in this case, the business will need to recover from the effect of the blaze. In the worst-case scenario, the effect of the fire is the closure of the business.
It is interesting to note that this fire took place in a modestly sized building. The fire service worked hard to protect surrounding businesses, which included a removal and storage business, yet the intervention of 40 firefighters could not stop the fire in a building of this size. Industrial fires impact far larger premises with similar results and with potentially larger impacts.
Preventing large costly fires is possible through a combination of strategies. One of the most effective methods is the use of sprinkler systems, which contain and control fires before the fire and rescue service arrives. They therefore minimise the wider impact of unmanageable fires, reducing costs to business and the economy as a whole. Importantly, by limiting any fire damage, they allow businesses to resume operations quickly, often within hours of the incident.
For more information about the BSA visit the www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org