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London Recycling Plant Suppression Activation

12 August 2023

London Fire Brigade LFB have reported the following activation where fire suppression was recorded as being present and operated having an impact. The data around the incident provides powerful evidence as to the ability of fire sprinklers and other forms of Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) in protecting our communities from fire.

Recycling Plant

  • Incident; Fire
  • When; 2 August 2023
  • Time of call; 12:15
  • Where, Havering
  • Occupancy; Recycling Plant
  • Location of fire; Process/Production room
  • Automatic fire suppression System; Water mist


  • Fire involving batteries, generators located in a process production room.
  • Activating the premises water mist system in the room of origin
  • Containing, controlling the fire to the room of origin
  • Total fire damage 5sqm
  • Firefighting action immersed in water.

The ¹ National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) have reported that UK Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) attend around 300 significant fires in waste sites each year which are often difficult to extinguish requiring multiple FRS resources for significant periods of time which can have a serious impact on the local community in the short or long term, including:

  1. The Environmental Impact
  2. Public health impacts on responders and communities
  3. Large scale financial loses and disruption.
  4. Road closures
  5. High demand on FRS and other agency resources

FRS are fully aware of the environmental impacts of fire publishing sustainability, environmental reports with further guidance published by the government on environmental protection, providing further guidance for FRS on preventing and dealing with incidents with the potential to pollute.

Active fire protection systems, specifically Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) should be seen as part of a holistic approach minimising fire damage as part of a greener approach from the fire sector, which is currently overlooked. The Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH) published “Reducing Fire Risk at Waste Management Sites” good practice guidance on the latest research and information available to achieve good fire risk management which includes an appendix focusing on suppression/extinguishing/fighting systems focusing on

  • Importance of seeking competent advice for the installation of a fire suppression system
  • The system should be proportionate to the nature and scale of waste management activities completed and associated risks.
  • Choosing the appropriate fire suppression system which may include.
    1. Sprinklers
    2. Manual open deluge system
    3. Deluge/water spray systems
    4. Mobile foam trolley
    5. Water monitors/cannons/curtains
  • The design, installation and maintenance of the proposed system is covered by an appropriate UKAS-accredited third-party certification scheme.
  • Importance of liaising with insurers who may have specific requirements for fire suppression systems.

The recent London, Herne Hill Waste Transfer Station Fire 8 September 2023, clearly reminds us of the dangers these types of fires can bring to the local community, if fire suppression had been installed could the outcome of been different?

It is reported that.

  • 100% of the building was alight with a partial collapse.
  • LFB Mobilised 15 fire appliances requiring 100 firefighters.
  • 2x 32 metre turntable ladders used as water towers.
  • The fire had a significant impact on the local communities.
  • Fire suppression was not installed.


Images credit LFB Twitter

Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the South West London Area, Nick Davis, said: “Firefighters have been continually tackling the fire at the waste transfer station in Herne Hill since it started on Friday morning. Controlled demolition on site allowed us to safely make progress and the fire was fully extinguished this morning, which I know will come of huge relief to local residents.

“This fire has had a significant impact on the communities in the surrounding area and I know how difficult it has been for people to keep their doors and windows closed during the heatwave. Local senior fire officers and members of our Community Engagement team are continuing to give advice to local residents and provide support. We are carrying out an investigation into the fire and we are fully supporting the Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation.

“The challenging nature of the fire on site means that firefighters from across London have attended over the weekend. I would like to thank our operational staff, control officers and enabling teams for their work to maintain our presence on site for over 80 hours and counting.”

¹ NFCC. National Operational Guidance, Fires in waste sites


12 August 2023


Location (Town/City)