Fire at the Murfitt Plant in Littleport

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Stuart Agnew MEP

Dear Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service,

Freedom of Information Act (2000) Request

I write to request answers to the following questions concerning the fire at the Murfitt plant in Littleport, under the above act:

1.How many times the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services have been called out to deal with fires at the Murfitt plant in Littleport since 1st January 2008.

2.Have any fire safety inspections been carried out by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services at the Murfitt plant in the same period?

3.If so, how many and what were their findings?

4.Why did Cambridge Fire and Rescue initially state on BBC television that the fire should not be fought with water due to potential environmental damage, in August, and then subsequently allow the fire to be put out over many weeks using copious and continuous quantities of water?

5. What steps were taken by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services to communicate with local residents about the fire and its emissions? (Please supply copies of any written communications).

6. What steps are being taken by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services to ensure that fire safety standards are improved at the Murfitt site, to avoid a repetition of this year’s fire after the plant has been re-built?

I look forward to receiving your response within the 20 working day period stipulated in the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours faithfully

Stuart Agnew MEP

Sarah Bail, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Mr Agnew,

Thank you for your request for information which is being processed.

A response will be sent to you as soon as possible and in any event within
the permitted timescale of 20 working days, i.e. by 13th January 2010

If you need any other information, then please do not hesitate to contact
me.

Kind regards

Sarah Bail
Resources Assistant

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service
Telephone: 01480 444566

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to whom it is addressed. If you have received it in error, please notify
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Sarah Bail, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service

6 Atodiad

Dear Mr Agnew ,

I am now able to respond to your request for information as follows.

1.How many times the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services have
been called out to deal with fires at the Murfitt plant in
Littleport since 1st January 2008.

Response: Twice, including the fire in August 2009

2.Have any fire safety inspections been carried out by
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services at the Murfitt plant in the
same period?

Response: Yes
3.If so, how many and what were their findings?

Response: One. This followed a fire in November 2008 (included above) and
resulted in our advice to review their fire risk assessment.

4.Why did Cambridge Fire and Rescue initially state on BBC
television that the fire should not be fought with water due to
potential environmental damage, in August, and then subsequently
allow the fire to be put out over many weeks using copious and
continuous quantities of water?

Response:

In any fire situation, the tactics for dealing with it will change as the
fire moves through its initial development, steady state, and decay
phase. With regard to this particular incident, due to its size and
severity, it would have been both unsafe and futile for firefighters to
attempt to extinguish the fire using water jets and sprays, so the Service
was limited to using water to protect surrounding risk areas. The
decision to apply such defensive tactics in dealing with the fire at this
stage was taken in full agreement with the EA, who were keen to minimise
the polluting effect that water run off would cause to the surrounding
area.. After approximately ten days, when the fire reached its decay
stage, it became apparent that due to the nature of the burning material,
it would burn for many months. With this fact in mind, the Service worked
with the EA to develop a safe and effective method of extinguishing the
fire that would not create a long term effect on the local environment.
As the fire was burning with much less intensity, the Service was able to
use water spray and heavy machinery to isolate and extinguish sections of
the smouldering pile. It also recycled the vast majority of water used
within the confines of the site.

The operational tactics used to extinguish this fire have been praised by
the EA, who have reported far less environmental damage to the surrounding
locality than could have been expected should alternative methods of
extinguishment been used.

5. What steps were taken by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Services
to communicate with local residents about the fire and its
emissions? (Please supply copies of any written communications).

Response:

CFRS worked together with other agencies including the Health Protection
Agency, local authority, HSE and Environment Agency to ensure
communication was coordinated.

The Service used the media as a primary communication outlet and during
the seven weeks the fire was burning for, CFRS officers conducted over 20
radio and TV interviews as well as interviews for local newspapers and
their websites (video news). The first media message was issued shortly
after the fire started. This was through news releases and face to face
briefings.

The Service dedicated a section on its website to the incident and
publicised this for residents to get up to date information including
forecasted wind direction for the next 5 day period. Link to information
[1]http://www.cambsfire.gov.uk/incidents/36...

Leaflets were produced. There was one for residents and businesses in the
immediate area of the site (500m radius) and residents in the town. The
leaflets are attached.

These were hand delivered to a number of homes and then left in local
shops, parish council office etc for other residents to pick up. Poster
also put up in town and immediate area for wind change predication
(attached).

In the first week, the mobile incident command unit was set up in the High
Street of Littleport and representatives from the fire service and the
Environment Agency were on hand to staff the unit and speak to residents
about the incident.

CFRS appointed a resident/business liaison officer as a point of contact
for residents and business owners in the immediate area and made himself
available at all times.

Contact was also maintained with the local school.

There were three multiagency residents/business owner meetings held at the
fire station and then at the local community school. This was an
opportunity for those most affected to discuss their concerns with the
agency representatives on the panel (CFRS, HPA, EA, HSE, East Cambs DC,
NHS).

Doctors at the local surgery were also briefed.

6. What steps are being taken by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue
Services to ensure that fire safety standards are improved at the
Murfitt site, to avoid a repetition of this year's fire after the
plant has been re-built?

Response:

Should the site be reinstated, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service will
be consulted during the Building Control process of any on-site building
work, at which point we are able to make recommendation on certain issues.

I trust that this information is what you require, but if I can be of any
further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

A copy of the CFRS Complaints Procedure is attached for your information.

Yours faithfully,

Kind regards

Sarah Bail
Resources Assistant

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service
Telephone: 01480 444566

This email is private and confidential. It is intended only for the person
to whom it is addressed. If you have received it in error, please notify
us and remove it from your system.

Any email including its content may be monitored and used by
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service for reasons of security and for
monitoring internal compliance with company policies on staff use. Email
monitoring and blocking software may also be used. Please be aware that
you have a responsibility to ensure that any email you write or forward is
within the bounds of the law.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service cannot guarantee that this message
or any attachment is virus free or has not been intercepted and amended
and you should perform your own virus checks.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.cambsfire.gov.uk/incidents/36...
http://www.cambsfire.gov.uk/incidents/36...