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Fire at Chandlers Building Supplies

How this fire happened

A fire broke out at Chandlers Building Supplies in Portslade at 08.44 on 15 March 2018.

At the height of the incident ten fire appliances were in attendance. The very nature of the business meant that the items stored on the site caught alight relatively easily.

Nearby roads were closed and locals were asked to keep windows shut to avoid breathing in the smoke.

The building was so badly damaged that it needed to be dismantled.

The fire and rescue service worked alongside Sussex Police, Building Control, the Environment Agency, the site owners and demolition crews.

A subsequent fire investigation found the fire was accidental and linked to work being carried out by a contractor carrying out “hot works”.

The effect it had – statement from Chandlers


“Our immediate response was – is everyone ok?


Having established that they were, we then went immediately to the branch to assess the situation and support the manager.

We transferred incoming calls to our Ringmer branch and kept customers updated using social media. Drivers were told to divert to Ringmer when their loads had been delivered. We ensured that as many as possible of the days remaining deliveries were made using stock from Ringmer or Lewes.


  • We lost stock worth in excess of a quarter of a million pounds.

  • We lost our sales office.

  • We lost our trade counter.

  • We lost all of our connectivity.

  • We lost our timber machinery.

Some members of staff lost some personal possessions. 


  • We did not lose our data as our systems are hosted offsite on third party servers with backups at another site.

  • We did not lose our focus on customer service.

  • We did not lose our team spirit.


The branch reopened for business at the usual time on Monday morning and achieved 99% of its budget on the Monday. 


Our insurers, NFU Mutual, gave us first class support.


We also had fantastic support from the local community and local businesses, in particular Shoreham Port Authority and our local councillor. 


In an attempt to try and repay some of this goodwill we were one of the main sponsors of the inaugural Lagoonfest held in and around Hove Lagoon later that year."

Safety message

Any fire whenever it occurs in the workplace has the potential to disrupt your business and the people who rely on your services.

Fire safety legislation requires you to take account of fire risks and consider preventative measures, therefore it is day-to-day good practice to minimise the risk of fire in the workplace, not just today but every day.

These are a few simple things you can consider to reduce fire risks on your business premises.

Fire risk assessment


  • Have you checked you have an up to date fire risk assessment?

  • Have you completed any actions to improve fire safety?

  • Can you enhance your safety routines? 


Creating a Fire Risk Assessment guidance


Good management 


  • Good housekeeping is good business -  maintain a clean, clutter-free, organised workplace that eliminates or greatly reduces the risk of fire and make sure your staff knows what's expected of them 

  • Train - and test - your staff on fire safety, ensuring they understand explicit plans, instructions, and routines

  • Ensure ‘hot works’ areas are controlled and inspected after completion. 


Business continuity


  • Have you got a plan to deal with a range of issues including loss of property or stock, loss of power, failure of IT and collapse of your supply chain?

  • Can you coordinate actions with neighbouring businesses to reduce risk and provide assistance? 


GOV.UK Business continuity Guidance

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