Fire extinguished by sprinklers in Oxford high rise
THE ‘SIGNIFICANT’ fire in Plowman Tower in the city was prevented from spreading by sprinklers activating, according to Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (OFRS).
Oxford Mail reported on the news that the tower’s sprinklers ‘proved their worth’ by preventing the ‘significant fire’ at Plowman Tower, on the fourteenth floor, ‘from spreading’. OFRS stated that the sprinkler – ‘fitted as part of the refurbishment’ of this and four other blocks across the city – helped put out the blaze caused by a pan of cooking oil catching fire, crews alerted by an alarm activating.
When they attended, they discovered the sprinkler had ‘already doused the flames’, and OFRS added that the fire was ‘significant’ before it had been extinguished, with images released showing a ‘smoke-blackened ceiling and cabinets’. OFRS added: ‘The fire was completely extinguished with minimal fire and smoke damage, and the smoke alarm alerted the resident of the flat who wasn’t in the room. The mild water damage was insignificant compared to the potential of what would have been a very serious fire.
‘[We are] reminding householders of the devastating impact of kitchen fires, and this incident shows both the importance of cooking safely and how safety measures can save lives. Firefighters will extinguish the flames quickly, but the material and human damage can be lifelong and life-changing. We all know how easy it is to get distracted by the phone ringing, the doorbell going, kids running around, or a TV programme catching your attention. Whatever the reason, any distraction - even if it’s momentary - can be disastrous.’
Last year, it was reported that work to replace cladding on the city’s Windrush and Evenlode blocks was nearing completion. Earlier that year, replacement works began on the two blocks after their cladding failed the government’s safety tests. The new cladding was chosen as it was ‘in line with the requirements of the updated central government guidance’, with the council’s contractors Fortem to undertake the recladding work.
The £1m project to remove and replace the cladding followed initial confusion in 2017 about whether the blocks should have been evacuated, with fire crews put on standby in case a fire started and firefighters ‘going door-to-door’ to reassure residents. The two Oxford towers were set to ‘be among the first to be completed’, with the council ‘seeking to reclaim costs’ from the government.