News Archive ~ Water Pressure June 2001

Following the devastating fire at GJ Waller's stable block factory in April 2001 concerned local residents petitioned the local fire service and water authority over concerns about the low water pressure in the village which resulted in difficulties fighting the fire quickly. Here is the response from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service dated 4th June 2001:


Dear Lubenham,

As a follow up to our previous discussion and the petition delivered to Brigade Headquarters, I can confirm that an operational debrief has now been completed.

Debriefing is used to constantly review our activities so that personal performance, systems and procedures can all be reinforced and improved, the need for additional or improved equipment recognised, and training needs can be identified and addressed. The debrief was chaired by a Senior Officer who did not attend the incident, so clear and independent conclusions could be made. All personnel are encouraged to contribute in a positive, constructive and honest way.

Whilst it is not possible to be totally conclusive in respect of any fire and fire brigade operations, he informed me that mains water supply was limited and alone could not have provided sufficient water for firefighting operations to intervene to prevent the spread of this rapidly developing fire.

Initial crews did make a determined attempt to prevent fire spread and two firefighting jets were deployed inside the premises by firefighters wearing breathing apparatus. Appliance tank supplies and water from the nearby hydrant provided water to sustain this attack for a limited period only.

The Incident Commander quickly risk assessed the situation and requested additional resources within two minutes of arrival. At that point conditions inside the premises were untenable for his crews and flames had penetrated the roof, ventilating the fire and causing partial roof collapse, the fire at this point had spread both laterally and vertically.

Crews were deployed to supplement water supplies initially (and as it turned out, ineffectively) from other mains hydrants. Only when water from the River Welland was secured was a sustained application of firefighting water achieved.

The debrief has provided a lesson to crews reinforcing the need to consider all available water supplies. Earlier augmenting of supplies by supporting crews via the River Welland may well have secured water supplies earlier, however in the opinion of the Debriefing Officer it is considered unlikely to have affected the outcome or fate of the premises.

The Brigade, in conjunction with neighbouring Brigades, is pro-actively discussing water supplies for firefighting with the Water Companies (Severn Trent and Anglian Water) and our experience to date is one of a positive willingness on the part of the Water Companies to address our concerns about the adequacy of water supplies for firefighting whilst recognising their statutory duties in terms of water quality, leakage etc. We hope to make progress in the months to come on these matters.

I thank you once again for delivering the petition which has provided a valuable focus for our internal operations and pre-planning with the Water Companies.

Yours sincerely
A. Russell
Chief Fire Officer


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