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Home>Fire>Suppression>Blaze destroys hundreds of rented units at self-storage Manchester warehouse

Blaze destroys hundreds of rented units at self-storage Manchester warehouse

20 April 2021

ACCORDING TO the Business Sprinkler Alliance, a fire that occurred in late February and which ripped through hundreds of rented units at a three-storey warehouse facility in Manchester has once again “brought into sharp focus” the wider impact of fire and the “vulnerability” of unsprinklered buildings.

No fewer than 125 firefighters and 25 fire engines were called to battle what was described as “a significant blaze” at the self-storage Tameside facility located on Holland Street in Denton on Sunday 21 February. Firefighters were required to use ground monitor water jets and an ultra-high pressure fire hose to tackle the flames, which eventually spread to adjoining industrial units. Three aerial appliances were employed to tackle the blaze from above.

Plumes of smoke emanating from the fire impacted the nearby M67 motorway, with a section of that roadway between Junctions 1 and 2 having to be closed off. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service crews worked tirelessly to bring the blaze under control, remaining on scene through the night to damp down small, smouldering pockets of fire.

Thankfully, there were no injuries, but the wider impact for the hundreds of people who had rented units at the location and have now lost stored goods will be felt long after the fire was extinguished.

Tameside storage facility customers included Rebecca Dakin, a business owner who has reported losing £100,000 worth of stock from a new start-up, and also Donna Hilton who, tragically, has lost her worldly possessions.

Such fires are challenging to contain due to the large quantity of furniture and often unknown materials which are normally tightly-packed into facilities of this type. These incidents create large fires that burn hard for a long time, creating a lot of smoke which, in this case, could be seen across Manchester and realised the evacuation of nearby residential areas.

Similar incidents

The fire in Denton follows similar episodes like the Safehouse fire in 2017, the Shurgard blaze as we left 2018 and also the Twinwoods Business Park fire in 2019. The catastrophic Shurgard self-storage fire in Croydon at a building where there were no sprinklers installed, destroyed every one of the location’s 1,198 storage units. The cause of the blaze was filed as undetermined.

Shurgard’s new replacement four-storey facility opened last year with the owners taking the decision to include sprinklers in the rebuild process despite not being required by the Building Regulations to do so.

“One of the big questions to be asked and answered when it comes to these self-storage facilities is how anyone can claim protection against fire based on the light separation between units and the lack of knowledge of what people are putting into their individual units,” explained Iain Cox, chair of the Business Sprinkler Alliance. “Can self-storage operators assume that a fire will be contained in such circumstances and, therefore, offer comfort to their customers?”

According to the Business Sprinkler Alliance, the Denton fire is another painful reminder that fire does not discriminate. Whether it’s a self-storage warehouse, a university, a car park area or an office space, fires can and do happen on a regular basis. However, those fires may be contained and extinguished by systems such as sprinklers that help to ensure life isn’t put at risk and that businesses, jobs and the economy are protected.

Sprinklers are a proven method for controlling fires. They allow fire crews the necessary amount of time to safely gain access to the premises and extinguish fire. The Business Sprinkler Alliance concluded: “We welcome their consideration in buildings as a way of ensuring that properties of all types are adequately protected.”