Norfolk Downham Market Fire Station destroyed in blaze did not have sprinklers

Norfolk's deputy chief fire officer said the station should have followed its own safety advice

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The Independent Online

A fire station that burned down in Norfolk did not have a sprinkler system installed, a senior officer has revealed.

Norfolk's deputy chief fire officer Roy Harold told BBC News that the fire service should have followed its own advice.

Eight fire trucks were sent to the scene after police officers who were working nearby Downham Market fire station reported the blaze and at around 12:30am.

The fire reportedly started in the bay of the station, and destroyed its £250,000 engine which has since been replaced, as well as other equipment that was destroyed.

Homes nearby were evacuated for a short period of time, but no one was hurt by the fire. 

Watch manager Kim Scotney said: “The rest of the crew are dumbfounded. It hasn't quite sunk in properly, but at the end of the day nobody was hurt.”

Mr Harold told the broadcaster: “Normally we go to other people's fires, but tonight we had to go to our own.

"I think there is a fire safety message there for us. This building's relatively new, but it wasn't sprinklered.

“If it'd been fitted with sprinklers, we wouldn't be here today chatting about this because the fire would've been put out very, very quickly automatically.

"We now ask all new building developments to consider sprinklers very strongly," he advised.

“We've lost the fire station but we haven't lost the cover,” said Mr Harold.

A new fire station could cost about £1.5m, he added.

Now the building has been declared safe, an investigation into what began the blaze has started.

Norfolk's Chief Fire Officer, Nigel Williams, said: “Our priority today is to provide full fire cover for the people of Downham and I am pleased that this has been achieved very quickly.”

Dan Roper, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for public protection, told BBC News: "Although incidents like this are very rare, we have contingency plans in place to deal with emergencies such as this.

"This event reminds us that nobody is immune when a fire breaks out."

Norfolk's chief fire officer, Nigel Williams thanked police for their help.

"In the future, we will be looking into the potential to sit down with colleagues from Norfolk Constabulary and discuss future arrangements which may be eligible for some sort of funding from central government," he said.