Association News

Warehousing and Logistics Fire Safety Management

Warehousing and Logistics Fire Safety Management

There is ample evidence to show that modern logistics practice, while providing significant cost and time saving for retail and b2b distribution, have created significant risks to the concentration of assets represented by very large warehouses and depots.

In 2014 two important reports were published on fires in warehouses.

One, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), quantifies the financial and economic value of the damage and disruption caused by fires in commercial warehouse premises located in England & Wales which are not fitted with automatic fire sprinkler systems (AFSS).

The second, an environmental impact and cost benefit analysis for fire sprinklers in warehouse buildings – BRE Global – identifies the clear benefits associated with the sprinkler systems in three ranges of warehouse building size in England based on a comprehensive life-cycle analysis.

It is often assumed that a new warehouse or similar large single storey structure which complies with building regulations is fire safe.  In fact, virtually all UK fire legislation is related solely to ensuring that persons can escape safely from a building in the event of a fire and the abolition of local building acts means that while a warehouse may be legally compliant it is most certainly not safe from the consequences of fire.

At the beginning of September 2014, a fire started outside a home and leisure warehouse in East London. The blaze destroyed a shipping container in the yard containing around two and a half tonnes of waste and this fire spread to the warehouse. Thankfully, in this case the warehouse was fitted with sprinklers, and this, along with the hard work of fire crews, helped to limit the amount of damage caused. LFB Station Manager Clive Priestley who was at the scene said: “Crews worked incredibly hard to bring this fire under control. There’s no doubt that their efforts, and the fact that sprinklers were fitted, combined to stop the fire from spreading further and effectively saved the building and thousands of pounds worth of stock inside.”

In an other incident in August, following a fire in a warehouse on the Olympic Business Park, Dundonald in Ayrshire, a single sprinkler head actuated to control the fire, with total firefighting action being limited to 20 minutes. The total value of the stock within the warehouse was £10 million and the value of the damaged stock was £48,000. The warehouse employed 250 staff all of whom are continued to work. Reportedly the warehouse was uninsured as the company was unable to find insurance cover ‘due to the high value risk’.

These are only two examples of how commercial buildings fitted with functioning sprinkler systems do not face total destruction of contents, building and business. Fire sprinklers prevent major losses by turning what could be a potential disaster into a minor inconvenience and they do so time and again with irrefutable reliability.

It is generally accepted by Insurers, the fire services and many property owners and investors that sprinklers are the most robust and reliable fire safety device available and that the most successful and dependable way to protect your property from fire is to fit an automatic fire sprinkler system.

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association in conjunction with the UK fire service and insurers are to run a series of free-to-attend, day long seminars which will provide authoritative advice on managing fire safety in modern logistics facilities.

Confirmed dates and venues are:

  • 23rd October 2014: Kelvedon                Hosts: Essex F&RS
  • 27th November 2014: Milton Keynes                 Hosts: Buckinghamshire F&RS
  • TBC February 2015: Glasgow                                Hosts: Scottish F&RS
  • 18th March 2015: Burton-on-Trent      Hosts: Staffordshire F&RS
  • 19th March 2015: Cardiff                          Hosts: South Wales F&RS

The programme will provide independent, impartial and high quality information. The arrangements will vary from place to place but all include the following topics

  • 0945 Welcome from our hosts
  • 1000 Fire safety management of large single storey buildings
  • 1030 BSA Research (1): BRE Report ‘Cost benefits of sprinkler systems in warehouses’ / BSA Research (2) CEBR Report – ‘The economic impacts of fires in unsprinklered warehouses’
  • 1115 Coffee
  • 1130 Effectiveness of automatic fire suppression systems:
  • 1210 Case study of a major warehouse blaze
  • 1235 Q&A to the morning’s speakers
  • 1250 Lunch
  • 1350 Warehouse protection: An insurers view
  • 1425 Installing sprinklers in warehouses
  • 1505 With sprinklers….the good news. Without sprinklers…the bad news.
  • 1540 Q&A for afternoon speakers

Places are limited so, to book places for you and your colleagues now, simply click here and choose your ideal date.

We look forward to welcoming you to a BAFSA Warehouse Seminar.


Published September 2014