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Derby Shopping Centre Car Park Fire Sprinkler Activation

29 April 2023 @ 10:46 am - 1:12 pm

  • Fire Rescue Service; Derby Fire & Rescue Service (DFRS)
  • Incident; Fire
  • When; 29 April 2023
  • Time of call; 10:46
  • Time of Stop; 12:45
  • Incident closed 13:12
  • Where, Derby
  • Occupancy: Shopping Centre
  • Automatic fire suppression System; BS12845 Sprinkler System

DFRS have reported the following incident involving a motor vehicle fire within a large, enclosed shopping centre basement car park providing direct access to over 190 shops.

The Incident

  • Three fire appliances were mobilised by DFRS mobilisation control.
  • On arrival, operational crews identified that a motor vehicle had caught light.
  • A team of 4 firefighters were committed wearing breathing apparatus, identifying that the fire was contained within the engine compartment of the vehicle.
  • As the bonnet of the motor vehicle was opened, the sprinkler system activated
  • Containing and controlling  the fire to within the engine compartment of the motor vehicle.
  • Preventing further fire spread to adjacent motor vehicles.
  • The fire was extinguished using one main jet/hose reel.
  • Due to heavy smoke logging within the carpark a positive pressure ventilation fan was used to clear the smoke.
  • The premises emergency plan was implemented resulting in the evacuation of the premises.
  • No injuries were reported.
  • The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

 The outcome of this incident could have been so much different when compared to the Kings Dock Car Park Fire where sprinklers were not installed.

  • The severe open sided car park fire at the Liverpool Echo Arena on the 31 March 2017 destroyed a seven-story building and up to 1,400 motor vehicles.
  • Resulting in Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service commencing investigations into the incident
  • Publishing comprehensive report into the fire protection considerations surrounding the fire.

Identifying, recommending

  • Sprinklers are effective in both controlling a developing and fully developed fire.
  • Without sprinklers fire is likely to spread from car to car and dangerous levels of smoke are likely for long periods
  • Designers should seriously consider sprinkler provision to avoid multiple vehicle fires, resulting in huge insurable losses and the possible loss of life.
  • Current building regulations for car parks should be reviewed in light of this incident.


Government Concerns

  • In 2006, Communities & Local Government (CLG) Sustainable Buildings Division commissioned the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to carry out
    a 3-year project looking at the problems associated with fires in car parks.
  • The research provides valuable information for designers and other building professionals about the hazards and risks associated with modern motor cars.
  • This research has resulted in the publication of: ‘Fire Spread in Car Parks’ BD2552’ published in 2010 by CLG.

Of particular interest, the report highlighted the fact that the provision of a automatic fire sprinkler system can resist an outbreak of fire to the vehicle of origin-and this allow safe entry for firefighters to fully extinguish any remnants of a fire.

Importance of Management

It should be remembered sprinklers control the size of the fire, reduce the amount of smoke produced. Shopping centres are one of the most complex buildings that often include a variety of uses within the complex, leisure areas, hotels, apartments, cinemas, and offices underground car parks

Therefore, require a high standard of management compared to other building uses reflected with the provision of complex control rooms in many cases.

Allowing the officer in charge in the event of a fire to implement a comprehensive tactical plan interacting with the fixed fire installations, using live CCTV footage.

Management is key ensuring the premises fire safety systems are operable in the event of a fire including sprinklers, fire alarm system, dry/wet risers, smoke extraction units and fire curtains.

To highlight this, London Fire Brigade published an open letter in 2020, to those responsible for fire safety in shopping centres. Highlighting the importance of maintaining fire safety systems including the premises sprinkler system.

Further Guidance



29 April 2023
10:46 am - 1:12 pm


Location (Town/City)
Type of Sprinkler Installation
Wet Pipe