A sprinkler system could have stopped a fire that destroyed 1,400 vehicles at a multi-storey car park, a fire chief has told The Times newspaper.

The New Year’s Eve fire in Liverpool started in a parked Land Rover before rapidly spreading. It has emerged that rules exempting multi-storey car parks from some fire safety regulations, including the need for sprinklers, are half a century old.

Dan Stephens, the chief fire officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, has claimed his firefighters only had access to enough water to delay the spread of the blaze.

 

Sprinklers would have suppressed multi-storey car park fire

 

He told The Times: “Had the car park had sprinklers that would certainly have acted to suppress the fire. It may well even have extinguished the fire.”

“Had the car park had sprinklers that would certainly have given us a far better chance to get sufficient water on the fire to put that out. But beyond a certain point . . . the heat release rate from vehicles is such that we just didn’t have access to the water to put it out.”

 

Huge bill for insurers

 

An insurance industry expert said the fire is expected to prompt claims totalling more than £2 million. The figure could even rise above £10 million.

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers said: “Insurance is there to cover the costs of just this type of incident, and in 2016 motor insurers paid out more than £33 million every single day.”

 

Council may consider sprinklers for multi-storey car parks

 

The multi-storey car park is owned by the local authority and was built in 2008.

A council spokesman said: “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 that we should have sprinkler systems. We won’t bury our heads in the sand. I have heard conflicting advice.”

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