Luton Airport car park fire prompts mandatory sprinklers call

November 6, 2023

Luton Airport car park fire prompts mandatory sprinklers call

From our colleagues at Barbour EHS.

The fire which caused the partial collapse of a car park at London Luton Airport shows why sprinklers should be a requirement, a fire safety organisation has said.

The blaze involved around 1,500 vehicles in the multi-storey car park at the airport. It was declared a major incident by Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. The fire caused a partial structural collapse of the car park, which was built only four years ago and is now likely to be demolished. No sprinklers were fitted at the car park.

Ali Perry, chief executive of the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, said the fire was a “regrettable reminder of why BAFSA continues to call for sprinklers to be fitted in all modern, multi-storey car parks.”

Current guidance on fire precautions in the construction of car parks listed in Approved Document B of the Building Regulations for England and Wales (ADB) and Scottish Technical Standards, do not currently require that sprinklers be installed.

Perry added:

“It is BAFSA’s opinion that this advice does not fully take into account the greater fire load of modern vehicles. This is why BASFA is again calling for automatic fire sprinkler systems to be fitted in all multi-storey car parks.

“Almost all modern cars are significantly larger, more massive and contain much greater amounts of plastic than ever before. They produce fires which are larger and propagate much faster than was previously possible.

“When electric vehicles catch fire, for example, they can produce intense horizontal flames that may ignite adjacent vehicles and create large conflagrations that can eventually result in structural failure and collapse of the building concerned, making it difficult for firefighters to control the fire.”

Construction Management
October 2023

Our Comment

Major fire safety events have historically led to changing legislation, standards and guidance, and this incident is unlikely to be different. We will monitor the discussions over the coming months.


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