A recycling plant in Gateshead was saved from serious damage thanks to a sprinkler system which activated after a fire broke out in the early morning of Monday, 16 January.
Two Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service crews from Swalwell and Gateshead were called to the waste management company’s premises after a compactor bailing machine caught fire shortly after 5am. The fire was caused by tightly compacted waste spontaneously combusting.
The sprinkler system prevented the fire from spreading further and is connected directly to the fire and rescue service, which alerted the control room to the fire. It was extinguished by two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus, using a hose reel.
Firefighters also used hi-tech Cobra equipment in the final stages of the incident to extinguish the rubbish on fire inside the compactor machine. Cobra uses a high pressure hose reel water jet system, which has the facility to draw abrasive into the water jet and can pierce through all common building materials. It delivers a fine atomised mist into a building or high temperature compartment, cooling fire gases and suppressing fire from outside the compartment. This makes it much safer for firefighters to tackle fires in confined spaces.
Area Manager Alan Robson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There is no doubt that having an automatic sprinkler system in this building stopped the fire from spreading and prevented potentially severe damage to the property and the business itself. I would encourage all businesses to install sprinklers to protect their premises and staff, the general public and firefighters.”
A spokesperson for the waste management company said: “The sprinkler system is tested regularly and has proven this week to be invaluable to the business. The fire service response was immediate and their expertise was exemplary. As a business we feel our sprinkler system and our world class fire service is an ongoing partnership which is critical to our business activity.”