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Cleveland Tall Building Chip Pan Fire Sprinkler Activation

4 October 2023

Image credit, BAFSA video chip pan demonstration

  • Fire Rescue Service, Cleveland Fire Brigade (CFB)
  • Incident; Apartment fire
  • When; 4 October 2023
  • Time of call; 12:30
  • Where, Cleveland
  • Type of Premises; Purpose Built Flats/Maisonettes – 10 or more storeys.
  • Automatic fire suppression System; Residential Sprinkler System

The Premises

  • 12-storey general purpose block of flats
  • Containing 66 flats
  • Concrete floors and stairs
  • Designed and built in the early 1960’s.

The premises was retrofitted with a Residential Sprinkler System installed to BS9251 following a review of the fire safety of high-rise buildings completed by Stockton-on-Tees borough council committee following the tragic events of the Grenfell fire tragedy in 2017.

The benefits of this decision have been demonstrated once again as this is the second reported successful sprinkler Chip Pan Save involving a tall building fire from CFB.


  • At 12:30, fire crews from Billingham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Skelton, Stockton fire stations were mobilised
  • On arrival operational crews identified that 1x sidewall sprinkler head activated within the kitchen of a flat
  • Extinguishing  the fire before the arrival of CFB
  • 5% fire damage to room of origin, 50%smoke damage to the living room
  • One resident required minor treatment for burns due to actions to extinguish the fire applying water to the chip pan.

 This incident demonstrates the benefits of installing life safety sprinklers as part of a holistic approach providing powerful evidence of the role sprinklers play, as part of an appropriate package of fire safety measures, in reducing the impact of fire on people property and the environment, identifying the benefits of sprinklers involving chip pan fires,  

This is  the sixth incident reported incident involving chip pan fires  putting the myth to bed that residential sprinklers as an extinguishing media should not be used on fires involving chip pans.

 Benefits of the Residential Sprinkler System 

  • Internal fire spread within the apartment contained/controlled, preventing fire spread to the common ways.
  • Rapidly reducing the rate of production of heat and smoke
  • Integrity of the means of escape, maintained.
  • Flash over prevented.
  • Allowing firefighters time, security to implement a tactical fire plan.

This incident reinforces the findings of the reports published by The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) providing detailed analysis of compound data on fire incidents in Great Britain where sprinklers were reported over the period of 1018/19 to 20/21 focusing on Purpose built blocks of flats.

  • Inside the flats, the kitchen as a fire start location accounted for the highest number of incidents where sprinklers were recorded as having been involved and activated with 40.
  • Outside the flats, refuse stores as a fire start location accounted for the highest number of incidents where sprinklers were recorded as having been involved and activated with 123


  1. Lincoln, 7 August 2021
  2. Tonypandy, Rhondda, 29 December 2021
  3. Flint 3 June 2021
  4. South Yorkshire 26 August 2022
  5. London 21 August 2022



4 October 2023