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Fire caused by an electrical fault in a motorhome

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The total financial loss is estimated in excess of £1 million.

The total financial loss is estimated in excess of £1 million.

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Six motorhomes and two caravans on a motor home and caravan retail premises were completely destroyed.

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On arrival the Firefighter's cut through a metal gate to gain access to the vehicles

On arrival the Firefighter's cut through a metal gate to gain access to the vehicles.

How this fire happened

An electrical fault in a motorhome caused a fire to start, which spread to adjacent vehicles.

In total six motorhomes and two caravans on a motor home and caravan retail premises were completely destroyed by fire and a further eight motorhomes were damaged by radiated heat and smoke.

Four fire appliances were required to extinguish the fire. The total financial loss is estimated in excess of £1 million.

The fire started in the early morning when the premises were unoccupied and was captured on a security CCTV camera located on a pole in the centre of the site.

The camera footage showed that the headlights of a motor home had come on minutes before it ignited.

This motor home was an older second-hand vehicle and it had been parked in the same position for about three weeks prior to the fire.

Due to severe fire damage, it was not possible to identify the exact origin of the electrical fault, but it is though likely that mechanical damage either through age and deterioration, or possibly rodent attack, combined with dampness from recent heavy downpours may have been a factor.

The site which stores approximately 130 tightly parked motor homes and caravans was secure and alarmed. On arrival the Firefighters were delayed as they had to cut through a metal gate to gain access to the vehicles.

Additional hazards in dealing with the incident included fuel in the vehicle’s tanks leading to a risk of running fuel fires and a significant number of gas bottles.

The site is also located in close proximity to a Petrol Service Station and main road.

The effect it had

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Still from CCTV taken at the time of the fire.
Still from CCTV taken at the time of the fire.

The impact of a fire on a business should never be underestimated. What can be destroyed in minutes by flames can then take several months to recover from.

The loss was covered by the insurance but, this obviously has an effect on next years premiums, and the non claimable part is the management time that is needed to ensure that everything is taken care of, which runs into dozens of hours.

A few simple checks could make the difference.

Safety message

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CCTV Cameras.
CCTV Cameras.

In situations where the risk is in the open and the site to be covered is large, one type of suitable early warning solution would be to install a scanning Infra-Red Flame Detector.

The detector will scan a radius of 90 metres and can be linked to an Alarm Receiving Centre.

These systems are designed to detect a flickering flame and are suitable for large open areas; they are reported to be very reliable with a low occurrence of false alarms.

Liaison with the local Fire Station to identify a solution for future site access could also be considered as a useful measure.

Sussex Resilience Forum
The Sussex Resilience Forum works to make Sussex a safer place for the whole community.

Business Continuity and Property Protection

It is widely reported that 80% of businesses that suffer a serious fire close within 18 months, as despite being able to re build their physical assets, their customers are often long gone!

Don't let your business go up in smoke!

You may not be aware but:

Property protection and business continuity planning are not covered by current fire safety legislation and building regulations; which only require that buildings meet minimum standards for life safety including the need to ensure that: 

  • Fire risks are identified and reduced
  • There is suitable early warning
  • Occupants can escape safely
  • The building will allow Fire & Rescue Services to carry out rescue work for a limited period. 

The Sussex Resilience Forum works to make Sussex a safer place for the whole community under the remit of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and advice and information can be found on the Sussex Resilience Forum website.

Under the Civil Contingencies Act, it is a requirement for all local authorities to provide advice on business continuity and emergency planning and businesses outside of East Sussex should seek advice from their own local authorities.

We are currently considering offering specific advice and assistance with business continuity planning and property protection and this may be available in the future.

Further information

Peace for a pound

Peace for a pound

Motorhome sites like the one highlighted here are often very secure and in case of fire can create a delay for attending fire crews to gain access.

In common with other police forces, Sussex Police runs a keyholder scheme in partnership with GRG Public Resources.

Anyone can subscribe to the scheme for £1 per month - hence the name of the scheme is "PeaceForAPound".

More details can be found at www.peaceforapound.com

Following this fire the property is now covered under this scheme and we would urge others to consider it in cases where access for fire and rescue services could be difficult".

Do you have a similar story?

Finally, we would be interested to hear from you if you have had a similar experience to the fire detailed above, or would like to raise any related matters or even just generally comment on how useful you found our Black Museum.

Please send us your details and a comments via our on-line feedback form.

Acknowledgement

Survey

Mandatory field

Black Museum Survey
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Latest Update :
02 February 2015
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