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“Ross-on-Wye laundry destroyed in massive fire” reports Business Sprinkler Alliance
19 July 2022
FIRE CREWS from the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and South Wales were called to a huge fire in early May at a laundry in Ross-on-Wye, the Business Sprinkler Alliance has confirmed. The fire, which broke out in the early hours of the morning, destroyed the business and is one of several major laundry fires to break out in unsprinklered facilities in recent years.
The major blaze at the Paragon Laundry located within the Oveross Industrial Estate on Monday 2 May required 60 firefighters, 12 appliances and two aerial ladders to bring it under control. The 2,600 m2 warehouse was completely gutted in the blaze, but fire crews were able to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings at the location. Thankfully, there were no injuries. The Fire and Rescue Service advised local residents to close windows and doors, with smoke and ash from the blaze reaching the nearby town centre.
The business, which specialises in laundry services for the hospitality industry, moved into the purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility back in 2005, having been first established in the 1920s as The Ross and District Sanitary Laundry. Sadly, the loss of the building will cause loss of earnings along with business disruption, as the warehouse will now have to be rebuilt.
A temporary site will need to be located and staff redeployed. It’s reported the business, which is part of Clean Linen Services, is said to be launching ‘disaster recovery and contingency plans’.
Five weeks earlier on Thursday 24 March, the Coast to Coast laundry service located at the Penbeagle Industrial Estate in St Ives was partially destroyed following a fire. In August last year, seven fire crews attended a commercial laundry in Brighouse Road, Middlesborough to control a blaze which severely damaged the premises.
Fires in commercial laundries occur on a regular basis due to a number of factors including electrical faults, the ignition of lint build-up and spontaneous combustion caused by laundry that’s dried and stacked while it’s still hot. Further, there’s the risk of clothing that’s impregnated with cooking oils self-igniting if it’s not properly cleaned.
“To prevent similar scenarios from occurring within industrial laundries,” stressed Iain Cox, chair of the Business Sprinkler Alliance, “there needs to be more proactivity and conscious business resilience decision-making. Unless trading can continue quickly, businesses feel the financial pressure of maintaining cash flow and often flounder. Fire is indiscriminate and inexplicable, but that doesn’t mean actions cannot be taken to control it.”
Currently, automatic fire sprinklers are not widely used in the UK as the available guidance rarely prescribes their use. However, automatic fire sprinkler systems prevent large-scale fires because they activate automatically over a fire, controlling or even extinguishing the blaze before the Fire and Rescue Service arrives. They save lives and protect firefighters who attend incidents, while also preventing significant damage to – or the destruction of – a building caused by fire.
“Having sprinklers fitted would have protected these laundry businesses in the long run,” observed Cox. “They safeguard against potentially disastrous losses and also aid life safety. By preventing large fires, sprinklers also protect the environment by avoiding CO2 emissions, reducing excess water use by the Fire and Rescue Service and eliminating water supply contamination.”
Above all, though, they maintain business continuity. “In the event of a fire,” concluded Cox, “many businesses with sprinkler systems find they are back up-and-running in a matter of hours.”
*For more information about the Business Sprinkler Alliance visit the website at www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org
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