The following is a press statement released by West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service on Monday 12th August 2013:

Businesses throughout the West Midlands are being urged to fit water sprinklers, after they saved a Wolverhampton factory from being destroyed by fire.

The blaze broke out at the disused BRM Packaging Ltd in Horseley Fields late at night on Sunday 4 August, and was fully extinguished by more than 50 firefighters within three hours.

But senior fire officers say that, had the building not been fitted with a working sprinkler system, the fire could have raged for hours longer. It would have needed even more WMFS resources, and the premises could have been razed to the ground.

Phil Hales, Assistant Chief Fire Officer of West Midlands Fire Service, said: “This was a serious incident, but it would have been so much worse without the sprinklers. They were fitted throughout the building and went off just as designed, which meant the fire-fighting operation had effectively started before we got there.

“Sprinklers are designed to contain or even extinguish a fire in its early stages. We’re in no doubt that their early intervention at this incident meant that the fire didn’t escalate as significantly as it otherwise would have. The building survived and its stability wasn’t compromised.

“We would urge every business in the West Midlands to seriously consider fitting sprinklers if they don’t have them already. Fire can have devastating effects on trade. A sprinkler system could mean the difference between your business collapsing and being able to carry on.”

A correctly designed, installed and maintained system will provide years of service. A sprinkler system can be fitted to a brand new building for just two per cent of what it costs to build – a fraction of the expense that a fire can cause. They can also be retro-fitted.

Automatic fire suppression systems, which include sprinklers, can help businesses return to normal more quickly after a fire. They protect employees, members of the public and firefighters called to emergencies, as well as buildings, stock, machinery, contracts and jobs. They can also mean cheaper insurance premiums.

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