Major Lowestoft food factory blaze could have been avoided says report

A major blaze that destroyed a Lowestoft food processing plant was entirely avoidable if the site had sprinklers, a report published today claims.

Last July the Wessex Foods factory was gutted by a fire, resulting in 150 workers losing their jobs.

The Assessing The Role For Fire Sprinklers report says the Wessex Foods blaze could have been 'wholly avoidable' if the building had been fitted with a sprinkler system.

The report's case study on last July's fire shows 14 fire engines were called out to tackle the raging inferno, which took 10 days to completely put out and destroyed 1,000 tonnes of beef, lamb and pork.

It says almost 52 million litres were used in putting out the fire, which saw neighbours advised to stay inside and a report of pet rabbit dying from smoke inhalation.


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The report has been prepared by the Business Sprinkler Alliance, which is an year-old organisation made up of senior fire officers and fire sprinkler associations.

The report has been issued to warn businesses to install fire sprinklers to save lives and cut down on the nine billion litres of water used to put out commercial and businesses fires every year.

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The fires also pump 350,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Iain Cox, chairman of the Business Sprinkler Alliance and chief fire officer for Berkshire, said: 'As last year's fire in Lowestoft showed, fire losses have been felt right across the economy.

'They cost the UK �3.4m every day, They also cost lives and now we have the proof they cause terrible environmental damage. This is unnecessary waste and must change.'

A spokesman for the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said: 'Wessex Foods is a good example of where a sprinkler system would have prevented a small fire from developing rapidly and ending up in the total destruction of the building with the subsequent loss of the business.

'These types of fire have a far-reaching impact on people's lives, businesses and the local economy but are easily prevented.'

anthony.carroll@archant.co.uk

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