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:
FIRE AT WALLER'S FACTORY. 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
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.
Chief Fire Officer