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Stowmarket open sided basement car park sprinkler activation

May 12 @ 8:36 pm - 9:52 pm

Credit BM Sprinklers (image taken following reinstatement of the sprinkler system)  

 This incident provides further evidence on the benefits of sprinklers for car park fires which have become increasingly prevalent as the automotive industry has developed as cars have advanced, so has the risk of fires.

  • Date of incident;12 May 2024
  • Tine of call; 20:36.
  • Time of stop; 21;52
  • Location; Stowmarket, Suffolk
  • Use of building; Low-rise purpose-built block of flats
  • Incident; Motorbike fire.
  • Location of fire; Open sided Basement Car park
  • Automatic Fire Suppression System; Sprinklers.
  • Fire Rescue Service; Suffolk Fire & Rescue Service

Background to the installation of the sprinkler system

  • The premises consists of two residential low-rise block of flats, blocks A & B.
  • Block B, constructed in 2016 with an open sided basement car park, block A refurbished.
  • At the time of construction, the developer proposed a fire hydrant within the curtilage of the development to meet the specifications detailed in Part B5 of Approved Document B (ADB)Volume 1.
  • The location of the fire hydrant could not be confirmed at the time of consultation, it was assumed that the location of the fire hydrant would be located at the rear of block A.
  • The access route from block A was deemed unsuitable for fire appliance access, preventing a fire pumping appliance to be within 45 metres of all points within the development.

It was agreed with the developer as a compensatory trade off measure by SFRS that a sprinkler system conforming to the relevant code of practice, standard would be installed within the dwellings and car park area.

The Incident

  • SFRS mobilised 4 fire appliances to a fire involving a motor bike which had caught light in an open sided basement car park.
  • On arrival it was identified that the premises sprinkler system had actuated within the car park area containing, controlling the fire preventing further fire spread.
  • 6 sprinkler heads activated (VK468) with the water supply provided from a 6000-litre water tank.
  • Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus extinguished the fire using 1x hose reel jet.
  • At the time of the fire no other motor vehicles were located adjacent to the motor vehicle with minor fire damage reported to light fittings, electrics located above the seat of the fire.
  • No injuries or casualties reported
  • The cause of the fire is currently under investigation

Impairment of active fire protection system

Where buildings and equipment are provided with active fire protection measures such as a sprinkler system protecting life and in some cases property protection. It is essential that the fire protection measures in a building can function effectively in the event of a fire. It is important that arrangements are in place to ensure the responsible person, building manager for the premises is aware that following the activation of an active system such as a sprinkler system provisions are in place allowing for the immediate reinstatement of the sprinkler system following a fire.

It should be remembered. 

  • At the time of construction, statutory legislation required sprinklers to be installed in residential block of flats of 30m and above.
  • There is no requirement for sprinklers to be installed in car parks, instead reliance is place upon smoke ventilation either natural or mechanical.
  • If the requirements of ADB, B5 had been complied with, we could be looking at a more significant fire because sprinklers were not installed.
  • Sprinklers were only installed as a trade-off due to the requirement of B5 not being complied with.

Car parks

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association fully supports the recommendations made by the National Fire Chiefs Council within their Automatic Fire Suppression System (AFSS) position statement.

  • Recommend AFSS be required in open sided car parks to protect property, including the fabric of the building.
  • Strongly recommend AFSS be required in
  1. Enclosed car parks, as is common in Europe.
  2. Automated car parks, due to the extra density of fire loading created by stacking cars in carousel or racking systems.



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 12
8:36 pm - 9:52 pm