March 9 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Correspondent
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Blockbuster movies such as Die Hard are to blame for the myths around fire sprinklers, according to a Suffolk MP.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous made the claim as he called for the devices to be fitted more widely in the wake of a major fire in Lowestoft.
Mr Aldous said jobs and a business in the town could have been saved if sprinklers had been fitted in the Wessex Foods meat processing factory, which was destroyed in 2010.
He said the Government owed it to fire authorities, whose budgets are coming under increasing pressure, to reduce the risks, with fire chiefs strongly advocating the more widespread use of sprinklers.
He said: “The impact on the local community was far-reaching.
“A factory that had been in operation for 30 years was closed permanently with the loss of 150 jobs and there was a significant knock-on impact to the local economy.
“Other consequences included local road disruptions, evacuation of some nearby residents, environmental impacts, pest control and odour problems from rotting meat and the impact of using 50million litres of water to tackle the fire.”
Mr Aldous said that if sprinklers had been fitted the outcome would have been “completely different” and fire crews would have been back at the station within an hour.
He said that the myths surrounding the systems, including that sprinklers always go off accidentally and operate whenever a smoke detector goes off, were all untrue.
He added: “Perhaps the myths that have grown up about fire sprinklers can be attributed to Hollywood; sprinklers all going off at once and dramatic fires make good box office.
“Die Hard is the movie which gives the worst false impressions. It grossed $140million, whilst Backdraft grossed over $15m.
“Yes, the characters played by Kurt Russell and William Baldwin were real heroes, but we need to be putting in place a system that prevents them from having to go in to such dangerous buildings.”
He urged other local authorities to follow the lead of Suffolk County Council in making new sprinklers in care homes part of a deal when they transferred them to a private sector operator.
He called for the Government to promote both an increased acceptance of and a wider use of sprinklers, and said that fire sprinklers should be removed from being classified as “Plant and Machinery” fixtures for rating purposes.
He also called for a review into the size of building when sprinklers were required.