solent flour millOne of Southampton's most historic and iconic buildings has been saved from serious damage thanks to its in-built sprinkler system.

Fire crews were called to the Solent Flour Mills building, now operated by Rank Hovis, at Western Docks (pictured) to a fire on the second floor last week (8 August). 

Firefighters in breathing apparatus entered the building and found the floor heavily smoke-logged. They were able to locate and extinguish the fire, which had been contained to the milling machine it started in by the sprinkler system. All staff were safely evacuated from the building and the damage limited to the affected machine.

Group Manager Ryan Thurman, officer in charge of the incident, said: "The presence of sprinklers in the building prevented this fire from becoming a life-threatening incident and also saved the building and the business from serious damage.

"The activation of the sprinklers meant the fire was kept under control and was stopped from spreading, which helped protect not only the staff in the building but also our firefighters who went into tackle the flames."

"Historic buildings such as the mill are able to have sprinklers fitted and they are now so well designed that only the sprinkler head closest to the fire will activate, preventing unnecessary water damage to the rest of a building. The effect of fire on a company can be catastrophic and systems such as the one installed at the mill can save not only lives but also businesses and jobs."

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Bob Spooner, Chief Executive Officer at Hovis, also recognised the protection the sprinklers had given his staff and business. He added: "At Hovis, protecting people from harm is a business priority and we're committed to achieving the highest standards of protection and prevention.

"We have a great track record and it is good to see that our fire protection processes and systems worked well when required. I'd like to thank everyone on the site for their swift action and especially the team from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for their excellent response."