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Fire caused by a pan of fat left unattended on a cooker hob

How this fire happened


The fire occurred in the kitchen and activated a single sprinkler head in the kitchen, which extinguished the fire prior to the arrival of the Service.

There was no structural damage to the flat and minimal heat/smoke damage. All floors in the flat (bathroom, kitchen & lounge/bedroom) are wet.

All other flats in the premises were unaffected and remain occupied.

In the early hours of the morning the Fire and Rescue Service received a call to Council leased flats used to house vulnerable people.

There were believed to be persons reported in the premises at the time of the incident, and the standard attendance of 3 fire appliances and 1 aerial ladder platform was mobilised from the local fire stations.

The first fire appliance arrived within minutes and established the fire was in one of two flats on the lower ground floor.

They were informed that no-one was left in the premises and 2 firefighters in Breathing Apparatus entered the flat with a hose reel jet to investigate.

They discovered that there had been a fire in the kitchen and the sprinkler system had operated and extinguished the fire.

The two occupiers had returned home late from a night out and put some food on to cook under the grill and a chip pan on the hob.


It is believed they then fell asleep whilst waiting for the food to cook.

When the fire alarm sounded, the initial reaction by the occupants elsewhere in the building was that this was another false alarm.

These are fairly frequent in the premises and there are instructions on the wall by the fire alarm panel in the ground floor entrance hall explaining how to silence and reset the alarm in such circumstances.

However, having attempted to reset the alarm several times without success, they went to investigate the indicated area of fire and contact the Fire Service.

The resident in the next door flat smelt smoke and knocked on the door of his neighbour.


The door was eventually answered by one of the occupants, who then evacuated the premises.

However, the neighbour believed there was still one occupant inside, although the room was heavily smoke-logged with poor visibility.

He entered the flat a couple of times searching for the missing person, he eventually located her wrapped in a duvet at the foot of the bed, apparently unresponsive and making no effort to leave.

He dragged her out the premises prior to the arrival of the Fire Service.

The 2 occupants and the neighbour suffered smoke inhalation and were given oxygen at the scene by fire crews before being taken to hospital by ambulance for a check-up.


The premises were leased by the Council with the intention of housing some of the more vulnerable residents.

Recognising the increased fire risk in premises of this type, the Fire & Rescue Service agreed to fund the installation of a residential sprinkler system, which was installed throughout the premises in July 2006.

The system was supplied with water by a pump from a 1200ltr stored supply, with a mains water supply back-up.


Coverage included all the flats and the common parts of the building.

Safety message​

Automatic Water Suppression Systems, the most common of which are sprinkler systems, provide the best possible form of protection to life and property from fire.

Sprinkler systems work by automatically delivering a water spray directly onto the fire, controlling it until help arrives and in most cases extinguishing it.

This uses less water than the fire service would need to use and reduces fire damage and spread in the building.

Sprinklers offer protection even when the property is empty and there is no-one to raise the alarm.


They work from the minute they are activated by the fire, with only the sprinkler nearest the fire discharging, limiting fire and water damage to the immediate vicinity of the fire.

In a domestic situation a fire can be put out by the operation of 1 or 2 sprinkler heads with damage from the fire being cleared up in a matter of hours.

When a sprinkler operates an audible alarm also sounds to alert others.

In a building without fire sprinklers fire can spread unchecked until the Fire and Rescue Service arrives and alternative accommodation is often required while the home is made habitable.

The chance of accidental water discharge from a sprinkler system is approximately 1:500,000, so there is little chance of accidental activation.

Sprinkler systems can be installed as part of a new build or retrospectively in existing properties.

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