Steve Reed, Croydon North MP, spoke in the House of Commons about the Shurgard warehouse fire on New Year’s Eve, stating that regulations for such places need to be ‘reviewed and tightened’.
MP demands tightened warehouse fire regulations
28 January 2019
Earlier this month, hundreds of people affected by the fire at the Shurgard self storage centre in Croydon said they were planning to sue the company for fire safety failures. The fire destroyed 1,198 storage containers and ‘more than 1,000’ people’s possessions and ‘irreplaceable personal mementos’.
Customers claimed that London Fire Brigade had been alerted by phone calls ‘instead of automatic fire alarms’, which ‘if true’ would have meant the fire ‘could have been left to grow for a longer time’ before discovery. It took over 100 firefighters almost 24 hours to extinguish the fire, with questions asked as to why the building ‘was allegedly fitted with fire extinguishers instead of sprinklers’.
Others noted their fear that the building’s design ‘could have threatened the safety of anyone inside’, while other complaints included the terms and conditions of contracts, which stated that items of sentimental value ‘should not be stored’ despite the company promoting this in advertising.
Your Local Guardian reported on Mr Reed’s statement in parliament about the fire, in which he demanded that fire regulations for self storage warehouses be ‘reviewed and tightened as a matter of urgency’. He added that many of his constituents had lost all their ‘most beloved and treasured possessions’, with ‘one family, a husband and his wife and their three children who, because of the failings with the benefit system, had been evicted from the home that they rented just before Christmas.
‘They put everything they had into this Shurgard self storage facility, they were penniless because of the problems with Universal Credit so they couldn’t afford insurance, they’ve now lost absolutely everything that they owned, they’ve been left absolutely devastated. I met another woman who was a customer who had stored in this facility her mother’s and her grandmother’s ashes, you just can’t imagine what it would feel like mentally to lose something of such enormous human value.
‘I met an artist who lost lifetimes of artwork that she had created, I met a DJ who collects first edition reggae albums on vinyl, all of that gone in the fire, all of that irreplaceable, no money can replace that’. He managed to secure an adjournment debate on the subject, and demanded that regulations be reviewed and ‘tightened as a matter of urgency’, adding that it was ‘shocking’ that facilities like this were not required to have a sprinkler system.
Mr Reed commented: ‘In this facility, in the individual units, the walls did not go right up to the ceiling, there was a gap between the top of your unit and the ceiling so that when the fire happened in one unit it quickly and easily moved into the next unit. It seems to me quite shocking that these facilities are built without designing in measures to prevent the rapid spread of fire.’
Shurgard responded by noting that the warehouse was ‘fully compliant with all fire and safety regulations’.