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A blaze that incinerated up to 1,600 vehicles in a Liverpool car park could have been stopped if sprinklers had been fitted in the building, a chief fire officer said.
Dan Stephens, of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS), said such a system would have given crews a “much better” chance of stopping the fire, which went on to engulf seven floors of the multi-storey car park at the Echo Arena on Liverpool’s waterfront on New Year’s Eve.
Mr Stephens, speaking from the scene, said the temperature of the fire was between 800C and 1,000C, and although crews attended within eight minutes of the alarm, the flames spread so quickly they were not able to control the blaze.
He said: “One thing is for certain – had the building been sprinklered there is every chance that would have suppressed the fire sufficiently then for us to be able to go in and extinguish the fire without it spreading in the way that it did.
“I believe a sprinkler system would certainly have suppressed the fire, it would definitely have limited the spread and given us a much better opportunity to put the fire out before it spread to the extent it did.
“Given the intensity of the fire, given some of the fire incidents we’ve seen over the past 12 months, I think the fact that no-one was injured here and there’s been no fatalities… I think that’s a very good outcome indeed.”
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “If the chief fire officer or anybody else wants to make that comment we will listen to it and look at what we can do.
“Bottom line is, this is something we will look at – we will take his advice and other people’s advice, and if there’s things we can do to make the car parks more safer then that is exactly what we will do. We won’t bury our heads in the sand. I have heard conflicting advice.
“We will listen, we’ll take advice from the chief fire officer, we’ll look at what we do with this car park and what we do with our car parks if the advice is we should have sprinkler systems.
“There’s clearly lessons to be learned from it and that’s what we will do.”