Bombshell report: Sprinklers on fire-hit estate ‘not fit for purpose’

Demolition work took place at Lancashire Business Park in Farington after the fire in December
Demolition work took place at Lancashire Business Park in Farington after the fire in December
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A damning report has revealed that sprinklers at a Leyland development destroyed in a fierce blaze were ‘not fit for purpose’.

As Lancashire County Council prepares to rebuild Lancashire Business Park in Farington, which was gutted in December in one of the biggest fires Leyland has seen, it has emerged a sprinkler device in one of the units could have limited the damage if it had been working properly.

In the first planning application aimed at bringing the site back to life, the Lancashire County Developments company, part of LCC, has insisted on a better sprinkler facility, after suggesting the old one was ‘not fit for purpose’.

The planning documents drawn up by agents Hurd Rolland reveal: “The existing building had been on the site for many years and was outdated and provided low quality storage facilities.

“The fact that the sprinkler system was not fit for purpose and needed to be drained down is testament to this, and contributed to the extent of the fire damage.”

Gary Pearse, assistant director of property at LCC , said: “Although there was a sprinkler system in the building, the sprinklers had been installed for a previous use. However they were not a requirement for use of the building at the time of the incident.

“The proposed new buildings will be fitted with a modern sprinkler system, in line with requirements for a new development.”

Martin Kelly, director of economic development at LCC, added: “Lancashire Business Park has been operating as normal since the fire, apart from the area directly affected.

“We have applied for planning permission for three new buildings on the business park. These will replace the larger single building that was destroyed by the fire.

“As we rebuild, there is an opportunity to improve the site.”

People could see the massive flames and plumes of smoke coming from the Centurion Way site for miles around on December 22, after the fire took hold at around 5pm in a unit occupied by H Parkinson Haulage.

It spread to neighbouring WH Bowker, and both units were gutted.

It took 150 firefighters until the start of January to extinguish flames properly, and officials now believe it could take up to six years for investigations to finish.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesman John Taylor said: “There is so much hanging on this, from companies and insurance firms, and the investigation is very complex.

“For a fire of this scale, it’s not unusual to not have an answer at this stage.”