A major fire in Hove has highlighted the importance and effectiveness of a fully functional sprinkler system.
This was funded by East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service six years before a blaze broke out at a five storey property in Brunswick Place, Hove, last Friday (9th November).
It was recognised by East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service that there was an increased fire risk at these premises and the Service agreed to fund the installation of a residential sprinkler system, throughout the building in July 2006.
Four fire engines from Hove and Preston Circus attended the incident in the early hours of the morning, after a neighbour made the 999 call. Crews remained at the scene from 2.35am until 4.28am.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the property with a hose reel to investigate the basement flat fire and discovered that it had originated in the kitchen area but had successfully been put out by the sprinkler system.
The fire started after two women, aged 22 and 18, returned home from a night out and started to cook but both fell asleep.
After hearing the smoke alarm sounding, a worried neighbour went to investigate before crews arrived at the scene.
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Head of Protection Richard Fowler said:
“When the fire alarm sounded, the initial reaction by the occupants elsewhere in the building was that this was another false alarm. These are fairly frequent in these premises and there are instructions on the wall by the fire alarm panel on the ground floor in the entrance hall explaining how to silence and reset the alarm in such circumstances. However, having attempted to reset the alarm several times without success, they went to investigate the indicated area of fire and then contacted the Fire Service.
“Meanwhile, the neighbour already smelt smoke and knocked on the door, which was eventually answered by one of the females, who then evacuated the premises.
"However, the neighbour believed there was still one occupant inside, although the room was heavily smoke-logged with poor visibility. He entered the flat a couple of times searching for her, having to leave to get fresh air now and then. He eventually located her wrapped in a duvet at the foot of the double bed, apparently unresponsive and making no effort to leave. He dragged her out the premises prior to the arrival of firefighters"
All three of them were given oxygen at the scene after breathing in smoke and were taken to hospital as a precaution, although they were released a few hours later. However, as they had not responded to the fire alarm the effects of the smoke on them would have been much more severe if the fire had not been extinguished by the sprinkler system.
Although the neighbour's actions are very commendable, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service always recommends to ‘get out, stay out and call 999’ and not to tackle the fire but to leave it to the professionals.