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Billingham, Cleveland Refuse/Bin Store Sprinkler Activation

May 28

  • Date of incident; 28 May 2024
  • Tine of call; 16:34.
  • Location; Billingham, Cleveland
  • Use of building; Purpose Built Flats/Maisonettes – 10 or more storeys
  • Location of fire; Refuse/Bin store
  • Automatic Fire Suppression System; Sprinklers.
  • Fire Rescue Service; Cleveland Fire & Rescue Service (CFRS)

The premises: – 12 storey purpose-built block of flats of traditional brick-built construction with concrete slab construction with non-combustible cladding containing 66 residential flats.

The Incident

  • 5 fire pumping appliances were mobilised to reports of a fire involving a residential block of flats following an emergency call received by CFRS mobilisation control from the remote alarm receiving centre.
  • On arrival operational crews identified that a fire involving a refuse bin within a bin store located below a refuse chute on the ground floor had been extinguished within 5 minutes of the the activation of the premises sprinkler system before the arrival of the fire rescue service.
  • It is reported that the area affected by fire was less than 1m² within the commercial bin.
  • The cause of the fire was due a lite cigarette

Cleveland FRS observations, the prompt action of the sprinkler system prevented further development of the fire limiting fire/smoke damage to the refuse/bin store only. Reducing smoke spread to percolate through the bin chute to the floors above with minimal disruption to the residents.

Danger of refuse chute/bin store fires.

It should be remembered these types of fires can have a dramatic effect on the safety of the residents, specifically where refuse chutes and access hatches can sometimes be found directly opening onto protected corridors, lobbies, and stairs, so providing the potential for the spread of fire and smoke to the common escape routes.

It is therefore best practice in these situations.

  1. Automatic fire-resisting shutter should be fitted at the base of the refuse chute to restrict the spread of fire and smoke from a fire in the bin room. The shutter should, as a minimum, be operated on a fixed temperature fusible link.
  2. Bespoke sprinkler system, further protection can be provided by the installation of a sprinkler system located over the bins, with either frangible bulb or fusible link sprinkler heads, or open sprinkler heads with water discharge controlled by smoke detectors.

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association highlight that refuse/bin stores are a common area of sprinkler operation in areas outside of flats. This is unsurprising as national fire statistics in England demonstrate that for blocks flats the highest number of incidents, outside of fires in the residential areas themselves, are recorded in refuse store areas.

  • BAFSA published a series of reports analysing Incident Recording System data on fires in sprinklered buildings from 2018-2021.
  • One such report focused on where sprinklers were reported and having an impact for refuse store/bin store fires
  • Identifying that the highest number of incidents were located outside the flat with 141 incidents/activations
  • From the 141 sprinkler activations outside the flats, refuse fires accounted for the highest number of incidents with 123.
  • Refuse store fires sprinklers extinguished 53 (43%) incidents with a further 63 (51%) incidents being contained or controlled.
  • Further interrogation of the data would have to be completed to identify why 7 incidents were not contained/controlled


If you want to make a difference working in the fire sector, we need your assistance……

To make sprinklers the norm and not the exception – we need the evidence. Encouraging FRS and those in the sprinkler community to promote, collate, report sprinkler activations to Sprinkler Saves UK which will help to create a central and comprehensive record of fire incidents where sprinklers played their role in containing/controlling or extinguishing the fire.

If you hear of a save report it using this link



May 28


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