Sprinkler system plea after showroom blaze

Furniture For Less fire. 'Alexis Burton.
Furniture For Less fire. 'Alexis Burton.

Businesses were being urged this week to consider installing sprinkler systems in the wake of a huge fire that ripped through a Sheffield furniture showroom.

Firefighters from across the county spent all Tuesday night bringing under control the blaze at Furniture For Less in the Woodside Retail Park off Chesterfield Road, Woodseats.

Dave Kiddy, of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This was a major incident. Not only did this fire require a large amount of fire service resources for a significant period of time, it will no doubt have cost the business thousands of pounds in damage and lost trading.

“A sprinkler system could have quickly suppressed the fire before it got out of control.

“When you consider the huge costs associated with a commercial premise fire such as rebuilding, relocation, loss of equipment, stock and trading, it seems like an obvious move to install a sprinkler system, but many businesses still don’t.”

Currently, only commercial premises greater than 20,000 sq m must have sprinkler systems installed. The Chief Fire Officers Association is campaigning for the threshold to be lowered.

Last year, a fire broke out at the recently opened Parkwood Academy in the early hours of the morning, but a sprinkler system activated immediately, containing the fire and raising the alarm.

The fire at Furniture For Less started at 6pm. The fire service said it started accidentally, spreading from the engine of a van parked in a loading bay. Settees and sofas went up in flames and it took about five hours for up to 40 firefighters to win the battle.

Eight fire engines were called, nearby stores were evacuated as a precaution, residents were told to close their windows and roads were closed until the early hours. Nobody was injured.

Directors and staff at the company thanked the fire service and police for their efforts, but said “unfortunately the store and stock is beyond repair”.

The firm is trying to fulfill outstanding orders from its sister company, Ponsford.