Liverpool car park fire ‘could have been stopped’ by sprinklers

Liverpool car park fire ‘could have been stopped’ by sprinklers

THE FIRE on New Year’s Eve at the Echo Arena incinerated up to 1,600 vehicles, with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) believing sprinklers ‘could have stopped’ the fire.

BT.com reported on the comments from MFRS’ chief fire officer Dan Stephens after the fire, who stated that a sprinkler system would have given fire crews a ‘much better’ chance of stopping the fire. The blaze on New Year’s Eve destroyed 1,600 vehicles across seven floors of the council owned car park, after a Land Rover burst into flames, with 4,000 people evacuated from the Echo Arena’s Liverpool International Horse Show event.

In addition, residents living in apartments and tourists staying in hotels were also evacuated, with 12 fire appliances and aerial ladders called to tackle the fire. Mr Stephens noted that the temperature of the fire reached between 800 and 1000 degrees Celsius, and despite crews attending within eight minutes of the alarm, flames spread so quickly ‘they were not able to control the blaze’. Crews were able to protect apartments, hotels and the Arena surrounding the car park.

Eyewitnesses described cars exploding ‘every few seconds’, while 80 horses stabled on the ground floor were led to safety as well as six dogs. Mr Stephens added: ‘One thing is for certain – had the building been sprinklered there is every chance that would have suppressed the fire sufficiently then for us to be able to go in and extinguish the fire without it spreading in the way that it did.

‘I believe a sprinkler system would certainly have suppressed the fire, it would definitely have limited the spread and given us a much better opportunity to put the fire out before it spread to the extent it did. Given the intensity of the fire, given some of the fire incidents we’ve seen over the past 12 months, I think the fact that no-one was injured here and there’s been no fatalities… I think that’s a very good outcome indeed.’

Joe Anderson, mayor of Liverpool, responded: ‘If the chief fire officer or anybody else wants to make that comment we will listen to it and look at what we can do. Bottom line is, this is something we will look at – we will take his advice and other people’s advice, and if there’s things we can do to make the car parks more safer then that is exactly what we will do. We won’t bury our heads in the sand. I have heard conflicting advice.

‘We will listen, we’ll take advice from the chief fire officer, we’ll look at what we do with this car park and what we do with our car parks if the advice is we should have sprinkler systems. There’s clearly lessons to be learned from it and that’s what we will do.’