Incident directory

1991 - D & L Plastics, Burrell Way



  • Building Fires


Near miss


Date of event;

11th to 14th October 1991.

Time of event;

Approximately 12:22 (INITIAL CALL)

Name of premises;

D & L plastics.


Burrell Way Industrial Estate, Thetford, Norfolk.

Service area;

Norfolk Fire Service (NFS) now Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

Nature of incident;


Property type;

Site of approximately 2.6 acres consisting of 2 storage facilities (unknown construction type at this time), lorry container units, numerous rows (up to 15ft high) and stacks of waste and/or processed plastic material, additional piles of waste plastic and a machinery area consisting of a grinding and recycling plant with associated conveyor belts.

Premises use;

Industrial. Used for waste plastics recycling and processing.

Construction type and materials;

Unknown at this time.


Members of staff.

Fire source and location of fire;



Brief Synopsis;

Norfolk Fire Service (NFS) were called to a fire at D & L Plastics, Burrell Way, Thetford on the 11th October 1991 at approximately 12:22. Initially 2 pumping appliances and a Station Officer (StnO) were sent to the fire which was the 3rd at the premises within a week. Numerous fire services and other agencies were involved over the course of the 4-day long incident including fire crews from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, The United States Air force (USAF) and The RAF fire service. ‘A total of 51 appliances attended with 235 personnel and over the four days the incident lasted, 630 personnel were involved’ (Smith, 1991).

The first appliance with a Sub Officer (SubO) arrived at approximately 12:26 with an assistance message requesting ‘make pumps (MP) 3’ sent at 12:29 followed by ‘MP 4’ at 12:33. Significant water supply difficulties were encountered during the incident. As the fire developed further resources were requested by The StnO who sent a ‘MP 6’, message and requested a hydraulic platform to attend. A ‘MP 10’ message was sent at 13:35 and a further 2 water carriers due to ongoing water supply issues. Firefighting was also hampered by the freshening winds. At 13:45 a ‘MP 15’ message was sent and at 14:05 a Divisional Officer (DO) sent ‘MP 20’. At 14:42 the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) sent a MP 30 assistance message. A nearly 2-mile-long water relay was in place involving 15 pumping appliances (Smith, 1991).

At 17:47 a ‘fire surrounded’ message was sent. At 18:52 the first of numerous firefighters was sent to hospital with possible contamination. A stop message was sent at 20:16. By 20:54 eight firefighters had been sent to hospital and additional breathing apparatus (BA) and chemical protection (CP) suits requested due to personnel suffering from skin irritations. Specialist advice was sought regarding the likely gases being given off by the fire which indicated the likelihood of Hydrogen Chloride (HCl), Styrene (C6H5CH=CH2), Chorine (Cl) and Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) (Smith, 1991).

Over the next day resources were reduced at the scene. On Sunday 13th October at approximately 03:00 a fog descended in the Thetford area. Specialist advice received at the time indicated that there would likely be two effects of the fog, in that the fog would absorb the Hydrogen Chloride (HCl) but also create ‘a form of acid rain’ (Smith, 1991). Some personnel on the fireground had been experiencing an ‘acid taste’ and as a result of this all fire service personnel were withdrawn from the scene at approximately 04:23 until 09:10 when the fog had cleared, and conditions had improved. The result of the cessation of fire operations caused the fire to regrow and a further 10 pumps were requested (Smith, 1991).

On day 4, Monday the 14th October, damping down continued from and throughout, the previous night and into the morning until at 06:11 the fog descended again, and crews were again temporarily withdrawn. The incident was closed at 16:30 later that day.

A total of 52 emergency service personnel actively involved on the fire ground visited hospital including 31 from NFS, 13 from Suffolk Fire Service (SFS) and 4 from Suffolk Ambulance Service. In addition to this 4 members of the public also went to hospital and 64 United States Airforce (USAF) personnel were checked over by their own airbase hospitals (Smith, 1991).

36 NFS personnel reported some sort of medical problem with 77% of those recorded of being minor skin or ling irritation. 8 NFS firefighters remained in hospital longer than 24 hours (Smith, 1991).

 Photo 2

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 3

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 4

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 5

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 6

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 7

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 8

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 9

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 10

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 11

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 12

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 13

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 14

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

 Photo 15

Image courtesy of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).

Main findings, key lessons & areas for learning;

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Fire & Rescue Service summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations;

From; Smith, B. E. (1991). Report of fire at D & L Plastics, Burrell Way industrial estate, Thetford, Norfolk, 11 to 14 October 1991. [pdf]. Available here. Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.



4.1 Introduction

De-briefing of Personnel

Following any incident of significance, the Fire Service traditionally de-briefs personnel, to ensure that lessons learned are applied to develop operational procedures.

On Wednesday 16 October, twenty nine officers who attended the fire, along with senior non-uniformed staff and fire control personnel, took part in a far ranging discussion. An Assistant Chief Fire Officer and Divisional Officer from Suffolk Fire Service also attended.

The discussions were detailed and all the officers present were given the opportunity to contribute as they considered necessary. In his concluding address, the Chief Fire Officer thanked everyone for their efforts and expressed satisfaction with the way in which the Brigade had dealt with the incident over the four days.

Continuing discussions have been held with relevant trade unions, and other participants to ensure that proper operational procedures were followed and what, if any, improvements can be made for the future. (see Section 5 Operations)

4.2 Water Supplies

The lack of immediate water available posed the biggest single problem in dealing with this incident. The fire was almost under control when crews ran out of water being supplied from the appliances. Knowing the problems involved, the officer in charge called for assistance and the crews in attendance went to the nearest hydrant which was at the entrance to the estate, a distance of 450 metres. By the time they had returned, the fire had taken hold and massive support was eventually required to deal with it.

As has already been seen, the major water supply used to fight the fire came from the river almost two miles from the site. The water obtainable from the nearest hydrants was limited because of other demands made on the main for domestic supplies. Every effort was made by Anglian Water to increase pressure to no avail.

Details of the history and legislative requirements have been dealt with in Section 2.3 and recommendations are made in Section 7.

4.3 Health & Safety

4.3.1 Introduction

One of the major concerns at an incident of this nature is the safety of both firefighting personnel and members of the public. It was some hours before the exact contents of the fire site were known although it was assumed by the Chief Fire Officer that certain toxic gases would be given off.

4.3.2 Evacuation and Advice to the Public

On his arrival at the incident at 1443 hours the Chief Fire Officer discussed the possibility of evacuation with the Chief Inspector of the police. Details of wind direction were obtained from Bracknell Weather Centre and following further evaluation of the likely length of the incident it was decided not to evacuate nearby housing areas because the present wind direction was south westerly and blowing away from the town. The immediate factory estate was evacuated and eventually cordoned off by police.

There are a number of factors to take into account when considering evacuation.

(a) Where do all the evacuees go • . It is possible that they could be taken to a site which is initially safe and then at a later stage if wind direction changes it becomes directly involved creating an even worse problem.

(b) In bringing people out on the streets to evacuate, they could be brought into the toxic gases so creating difficulties.

(c) How are the areas policed for security once everyone has been evacuated.

Whilst the fire was being fought, advice was sought from a number of people. Doctors from the Health & Safety Executive and scientific advisers from Rhone Poulenc were present during some stages of atmospheric monitoring. Doctors from the Public Health, Addenbrooks Hospital, the National Poisons Unit and Environmental Health Officers attended meetings at Thetford Police Station and were also taken to the fire site to assess the situation on Saturday 12 October 1991.

In addition teams of doctors at West Suffolk Hospital, Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn assessed personnel brought in for medical checks.

The Brigade's own medical adviser was telephoned by the Chief Fire Officer on the Sunday 13 October 1991 to determine the likely long term effects on personnel.

As seen in the narrative of the incident, monitoring of the atmosphere was carried out a number of times. The public were advised by press releases issued over the four days, broadcasts on local radio and by police vehicles touring nearby estates.

During the four days, contingency plans for evacuation were put in hand with Breckland County Emergency Planning Officer and the Norfolk County Council Emergency Planning Officer. Initially, had evacuation been necessary it was intended to use the school adjacent to the police station on Norwich Road, Thetford.

The public can be assured that their safety was considered at all times and had there been a need to evacuate, it would have been instigated. There was no wish to alarm members of the public needlessly and this turned out to be the correct strategy as evacuation was not necessary.

4.3.3 Safety of Firefighters and other emergency personnel

On the arrival of the Chief Fire Officer at 1443 hours instructions were given to officers that anyone who complained of feeling unwell or who developed difficulties was to be taken to hospital for checking.

At a medium sized fire it is standard practice to appoint a safety officer who can oversee general safety. However, this fire covered an area of some 2.5 acres and it was impossible to have one officer dealing with this. The officer in charge of the incident was responsible for overall safety whilst zone commanders were appointed to various parts of the fireground and they were responsible for safety in their own areas.

Wherever firefighters had to work in the smoke, breathing apparatus was worn and when it became apparent that dilute acid was causing a problem, at 2003 hours the instruction was given for chemical protection suits to be worn.

Firefighting is a dangerous job and with an incident on this scale it is difficult to avoid some problems with smoke inhalation. Personnel were generally kept out of the smoke but there were occasions when the smoke swirl occurred and difficulties were encountered with fog which brought smoke down to ground level.

Monitoring of the atmosphere at and around the site was carried out at various times and the results were:-

 Photo 16

It was reported that HCl level at Sainsburys car park was 2 ppm and that in view of the time, consideration should be given as to whether Sainsbury's staff should be allowed to start work.

The Police were then advised how to use monitoring equipment (3 officers) and that monitoring should take place in all public places where smoke was apparent. It was suggested that if HCl detected, not to allow public or workers into the vicinity.

The Police were advised that All OK for passing traffic since cars not present for significant time.

0345 Monitoring expert leaves scene.

Results of monitoring carried out on 13th October 1991

Monitoring for HCl at various locations in and around Thetford occurred between about 0630 and 0730. HCl not detected at any test location. Actual times and places were recorded by Fire Service. Tests carried out by Rhone Poulenc, the EMAS Doctor and 2 Fire Officers were in attendance .

Monitoring for HCl at various fire appliances at the scene of the fire between about 0730 and 0830. HCl not detected at any test location where smoke not visible. Actual times and places were recorded by Fire Service.

Tests carried out by Rhone Poulenc with 1 Fire officer in attendance.

Monitoring for HCl at various locations in and around Thetford between about 1030 and 1200. HCl not detected at any test location. Actual times and places were recorded by Incident Control.

Tests carried out by Rhone Poulenc with Sgt xxxxx of the Police in attendance.

 Photo 17

During the four days of this fire, the following numbers of emergency services personnel actively involved on the fireground, sought medical advice:-

Visited hospital - 52 in total, of these:

Norfolk Firefighters - 31

Suffolk Firefighters - 13

Suffolk Ambulance- 4

In addition 4 members of the public went to hospital and 64 USAF personnel were checked in their own base hospitals (none detained).

Eighteen U.K. personnel from those mentioned above were admitted to hospital for varying lengths of time; from hours up to days. Eleven of those were Norfolk personnel.

Eight of the eleven Norfolk firefighters mentioned above were admitted to hospital and remained therein for more than 24 hours. These cases were reported to the Health and Safety Executive, as reportable injuries under the RIDDOR* regulations.

Altogether 36 Norfolk personnel reported some sort of medical problem with 77% of those recorded being only minor skin or lung irritation.

Soon after the fire a meeting was held with the Health & Safety Executive regarding the arrangements made for firefighting at the site and the back up provided for medical support.

Since then all personnel who visited hospital, later reported sick or completed accident reports have subsequently seen the Brigade Medical adviser or Occupational Health nurses.

It has been decided that a follow up check will be made with all these personnel and arrangements have been made for appointments with the Occupational Health Nurses or Brigade Medical Adviser.

Since the incident, concern has been expressed about the likely short and long term effects on personnel and specialists involved at the incident have been researching the subject very thoroughly. On 29th January 1992 those specialists met with Representatives of the National Association of Fire Officers, Fire Brigades Union, and Retained Firefighters Union to discuss the fears that had been expressed.

On 31st January 1992 a Brigade Routine Order was issued advising everyone of a press statement made by the specialists on the 30th January 1992. A copy of this can be found at Appendix 2.

It was recommended that an entry be made on the medical files of those personnel who visited hospital, reported sick or completed accident reports to the effect that they were subjected to symptomatic exposure at D & L Plastics. The view of the doctors was that it waJ not possible to determine exactly what products were given off but all the signs and symptoms indicated that Hydrogen Chloride had been the main irritant.

A special monitoring chart has been drawn up for all the personnel medically involved at D & Land this will be reviewed year by year. Any further information which comes to light will be taken into account.

* Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.

4.4 The Media & Publicity

4.4.1 Press/TV Briefing

Shortly after his arrival at the scene at 1443 hours, the Chief Fire Officer held an on site press conference with T.V., radio and press agencies.

During the remainder of the incident, frequent contacts were made with the media and after the incident, the County Fire Service took the opportunity to fully brief Press and Television on the fire and its implications.

An incident room was set up at Thetford Police Station and all media enquiries were directed to the police. There were regular broadcasts to the public and the police used loudhalers to keep areas close to the fire advised of the situation.

A media conference was arranged at the Brigade Training Centre on Friday 18th October and they were shown videos of the fire, (including) aerial shots and photographic slides taken during the three days.

Detailed questions were then answered by the Chief Fire Officer and the Brigade Medical Adviser, Doctor Hilton.

4.4.2 Offers to the Local Community

After the fire a resident of Thetford, a Mrs. K. Green telephoned Fire Service Headquarters expressing concern over the fire. The Brigade has offered to carry out a presentation on the fire, at Thetford Fire Station and to answer questions posed. This offer has not been taken up at the time of writing this report.

4.5. Fire Investigation

At an early stage in the incident a fire investigation team was on site to determine the cause of fire. After extensive enquiries and interviews, the cause was determined as deliberate ignition and police have since charged a man with arson.


As stated previously by the Chief Fire Officer, the Brigade performed well over a period of four days. During this period, crews coped very well with arduous conditions, exacerbated by fog on Saturday and Sunday, which brought the products of combustion down to ground level.

Firefighting is on occasions a hazardous occupation and injuries do occur on the fireground even though levels of training and command are high. Incidents of this type involving the movement of large numbers of personnel and appliances will invariably highlight transitional problems .

Liaison and co-operation between emergency services proved to be of a high order. It is the intention of the Brigade to continue to foster this relationship by regular meetings between services. For the most part, equipment in the Brigade performed well. However technology is always improving, particularly in areas such as communications and it is essential to keep abreast of new innovations. The Brigade is always researching new equipment and uniform and will continue to do so following this incident.

Numerous reports have been collated on the fire and a number of meetings have already been held with officers, trade unions and others to evaluate the operational procedures and performance of equipment.

5.1 Breathing Apparatus

Whilst this incident was entirely in the open air, it necessitated the use of breathing apparatus when committing personnel to protect surrounding properties and for firefighting in the later stages of the incident.

The Draeger sets in use proved highly satisfactory, but the scale of operations exposed a lack of facility on the fireground for recharging cylinders and servicing sets. The compressor at Thetford Fire Station was unable to cope with the demand of cylinder refilling and this problem was alleviated to a certain extent when the mobile compressor arrived from Suffolk Fire Service. Coupled with this, breathing apparatus sets and chemical protection suits had to be gathered at a central location, by officers in wireless cars from appliances in the water relay, some distance from the site. For some time servicing had to be carried out in the open air until arrangements could be made to use nearby warehousing.

Some difficulty was experienced with the use of different breathing apparatus sets and the fact that U.S.A.F. personnel had no control procedures complicated BA control matters. At one time more than one entry control point was in use but a positive decision was made not to institute 'Main Control' procedure for two reasons.

(a) The fire was in the open air and personnel were using breathing apparatus on well defined and viewable escape routes and

(b) The logistics of setting up a 'Main Control' procedure were not warranted for the period during which more than one entry point was in use.

5.2 Chemical Protection Suits

Some of those suffering skin problems, were properly dressed in full fire kit, breathing apparatus and chemical protection suits (CPS). Soreness to the skin exhibited itself around the neck. The suits in use were the "state of the art" when purchased, but are now considered to be less than satisfactory. A number of the newer "coverall" chemical protection suits had been purchased before the fire for trial purposes and since the incident the policy has been agreed to replace all existing chemical protection suits with coveralls. The first batch of 47 suits has already been purchased.

5.3 Water

As seen from previous sections in the report, this posed the most major problem for crews, both in the initial stages and whilst setting up the water relay.

The distance from the river to the incident was almost two miles and a relay had to be set up along a busy main road at a time when the industrial and commercial estates were working at their peak.

No problems were encountered with water supplies once the relay was in operation, with the exception of the problem of refuelling over 3 days of almost constant pumping.

5.4 Communications

The Control Unit is fitted with main scheme VHF radio for contact with Fire Service Control and other Fire Service mobiles. In addition, it has a UHF radio capability for use with the "fireground radios" carried by firefighters at the scene. The Unit is operated by a maximum of three operators who are operational firefighters. It is based on a medium sized commercial van chassis and by this limiting factor will only allow a small number of personnel inside at any one time.

At a large scale fire such as Thetford, it is necessary to provide a vehicle of sufficient size to allow display boards showing disposition of appliances and personnel and to provide a conference facility for officers to discuss and review strategy. This vehicle is not capable of providing either of these facilities.

Overall the radio communications worked well and our previous investment in additional hand held radios proved to be of great benefit.

However, the Brigade does not have the capability to communicate with other emergency services on the UHF network. This capability is fundamental to efficient command of an incident of this size and this has been recognised by the Home Office who are recommending brigades to pursue this capability. (Since the date of this report, further UHF radios have been purchased, with eight channel capability. Channels seven and eight are joint command channels with the police).

Control Room

A number of off duty personnel reported for duty in the Control room and during the four days all staff were extended to their maximum levels of endurance.

Whilst overall the management of the incident from the Control room worked well, there were ·some areas which caused problems.

At the height of the incident 51 appliances were at the scene and these came from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, RAF and USAF bases. Most of the Control room mobilising system still operates on a manual basis and there was insufficient space on incident boards to locate all the tallies, especially as the Brigade had to cope with other day to day operations.

Detailed maps of other brigades had to be obtained to locate fire stations and appliances attending and this created a difficulty with monitoring.

Deciding on relief crews proved to be the biggest difficulty for Control staff and keeping a running check of who was corning and going proved almost impossible. Retained personnel had to be released singly from crews, part crews were relieved and arrangements had to be made with neighbouring brigades to arrange their own reliefs. Efforts are being made to see if a more efficient system can be devised but it is highly unlikely that any programme would be able to deal with this level of commitment at an incident and the relief requirements will never be the same at any one incident.

5.5 Decontamination

Whilst decontamination was carried out at the incident, by high pressure mobile shower, it was not known until after the fire that fire tunics, gloves etc., could have become contaminated. As soon as advice was receive d on this, all fire tunics were industrially cleaned and one set of the remaining fire gear was sent to Warrington Fire Research for analysis. A complete copy of that report can be found at Appendix 3.

5.6 Command and Control

In general terms command and control at the incident was of a high level. Large incidents of any type involving the movement of this number of personnel and appliances will invariably highlight transitional problems, but officers on the ground coped very well. The problems of conference facilities on site have been noted in section 5 . 4, Communications.

5.7 Overall Firefighting

As stated earlier, firefighting is often a dangerous occupation and some risks can be expected at an incident of this nature. Firefighting was of a high order with ' services working well together. Unfortunately lack of compatibility between USAF fire appliances and UK equipment brought complications for officers at the scene. The USAF personnel tended to work on their own because of incompatibility and no knowledge of UK equipment. For almost all the USAF personnel this had been their first fire. If it had been possible to connect UK to USAF the 'fire power' of appliances would have been quite devastating.

An incident of this nature is probably the firefighters worst nightmare. There is a need to wear protective clothing which guards against the chemical hazards but this is not in keeping with actual firefighting. There was a continual dilemma about gloves, PVC gloves melt when they are exposed to heat and other gloves tend to let water through. There was certainly no happy medium at this incident and firefighters had to use their common sense about what gloves to wear. The 'Whole issue of gloves has been and still is under review in the same way as in many other brigades.

At an incident of this size it could be argued that once it was known that the site was completely engulfed it should have been left to burn. The Fire Service has to extinguish fires and much more criticism would have been forthcoming if the fire had been allowed to burn in view of the pressure from many other areas. It is likely that had the fire been allowed to burn itself out that it would have burnt for up to a week.

Consideration was given at an early stage on the different types of extinguishing media that were to be used. In the final analysis only one medium was suitable and that was water, which was required in vast quantities and in hard striking jets.

5.8 Fireground Feeding

In the early stages of the incident fireground feeding proved difficult. Most of the local companies who the Brigade had access to were closing down for the weekend and feeding for 257 personnel at the height of the incident was an enormous task.

Fish and chip shops, garages and other shops were used in the early stages and supermarkets donated food as the incident went on. Much needed and grateful support was received from the Salvation Army who remained at the incident throughout the weekend. ·

Norfolk County Services Catering DLO provided the bulk of the catering for the 630 personnel who attended and they opened up a school to cook a continual supply of hot food over the four day period.

A task group of Divisional Commanders has once again considered the adequacy of fireground feeding and their recommendations are now being implemented.

5.9 Liaison

Liaison and co-operation between the emergency services proved to be of a high order. It is the intention of the Brigade to continue to foster this relationship by regular meetings between the parties.


The cost of the operation has been in excess of £100,000.

The headings under which major expenditure occurred are as follows:-

Turn-out and stand-by fees to Retained Firefighters

Overtime for wholetime personnel

Overtime for workshop personnel

Feeding of personnel on the fireground over four days

Losses and damage to equipment and uniform

Cleaning of personal uniform contaminated on the fireground (fire tunics)

Wear and tear on vehicles and fuel costs

Costs to other services none of which have been charged to Norfolk Fire Service


7.1 Fire Safety Legislation

7.1.1 Conclusions

As already indicated there is at present no legislation enforceable by the Fire Authority for this particular type of premises.

There is however an E.C. Directive No. 89/654 entitled "Minimum Safety & Health Requirements for the Work Place". It is anticipated that this directive will require all work places to be covered by the Fire Precautions Act 1971. At this time it is not known what the commencement date will be and how the directive will be put into effect but it is likely that the Secretary of State will make Regulations under Section 12 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 which will probably require 'places of work ' to comply with codes of practice.

It js anticipated that this will be similar to the arrangements for small commercial premises currently covered by Section 9A of the Fire Precautions Act 1971, (detailed in Section 2 . 2) which places a 'statutory duty' on the occupier to make adequate fire safety provision. This duty can be enforced by the Eire Authority by means of an improvement notice which specifies the steps necessary to bring the premises up to the required standard.

7.1.2 Recommendations In the interim the Health and Safety Executive should continue to address the problems associated with these types of premises which fall within their legislative powers under the Factories Act 1961 and Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. In view of the fact that European legislation is likely to appear it is not recommended that a change in current U.K. legislation be considered. Changing legislation takes a long time and it is unlikely to have proceeded through Parliament before the E.C. directive comes into force.

It is therefore RECOMMENDED THAT the authority awaits the outcome of E.C. directive No. 89/654. Water Supplies

7.2.1 Conclusions

The legislation relating to the provision of water supplies on private sites is complicated but there are possible ways forward to resolve these problems.

7.2.2. Recommendations IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT District Councils be urged to require agreements under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 between developers and the Planning Authority before planning permission is granted, in order to ensure adequate supplies of water for firefighting purposes. . IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT the Government be requested to make the necessary changes in legislation. This can be taken up through the Association of County Councils.

NOTE Since the recommendations in,, and have been made the County Council is pursuing the issue of a waste disposal licence with the site occupier; letters have been sent to the Association of County Councils, The Chief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers Association and a local M.P. regarding water problems.

7.3 Operational Equipment & Procedures

7.3.1 Conclusions

Comment was made in Section 5, Operational Matters, on the adequacy and performance of operational equipment. For the most part equipment in the Brigade performed well. However, technology is always improving, particularly in areas such as communications and it is essential to keep abreast of new innovations. There are some areas in the recommendation which had already been addressed prior to this incident and every effort now has to be made to improve where that is necessary. Whether adaptations to procedures are needed is still being discussed but they will not affect matters financially.

7.3.2 Recommendations Chemical Protection Suits

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT a programme be implemented for replacement of the existing Chemical Protection Suits by the 'Coverall' type suit. Unless additional finance can be found this will need to be phased over a number of years to avoid budget problems · (now under way). Breathing Apparatus Tender

To assist with servicing of breathing apparatus sets on the fireground. IT IS RECOMMENDED that a consideration be given to provision of a Breathing Apparatus Tender with the capability of charging air cylinders, making extra sets available and also assisting with breathing apparatus control procedures. This will be researched and costings considered. Consideration will also have to be given to an inflatable structure as a temporary servicing area. Control Unit

IT IS RECOMMENDED that provision be made for fire ground conference and logistics display facilities, to assist in command and control at incidents. The Fire Service Mobile display unit may be suitable for this but additional finance is still required to make the unit operational for conference facilities. However there is a danger this may be required for the media, (under a County Council arrangement) and this would then not be available to fire service personnel. UHF Radio Channels

IT IS RECOMMENDED that the use of cellphone/FAX be extended for transmission of documentation to the control unit. Consideration should be given to the provision of updated UHF radios for inter-service liaison and extra channels dedicated to fire service use only. There will be a cost implication of £150,000 to replace all the existing radios within the Brigade. Unless additional finance is available, this can only be achieved in the long term. (a number of such sets have now been purchased). Fire Tunics

A rolling programme of fire tunic replacement has already begun in the Brigade, with personnel being issued one new style fire tunic (A26 type) as finance is made available. Monies set aside for this purpose by the Chief Officer from existing budgets have previously had to be used for other purposes. In the interests of safety of personnel, IT IS RECOMMENDED that this programme of replacement be speeded up to achieve complete replacement by the financial year 1993/94. Other Protective Clothing

Research is currently taking place into other aspects of personal protection; i.e. gloves, overtrousers, one piece firefighting suits and boots. This research will not be concluded in the short term but will ultimately provide firefighters with safe and comfortable protective clothing.


FBU summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons & recommendations;

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Other report summary of main findings, conclusions, key lessons &recommendations;

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

IFE Commentary & lessons if applicable;

None produced at this time.

Known available source documents

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

FRS Incident Report/s;

Smith, B. E. (1991). Report of fire at D & L Plastics, Burrell Way industrial estate, Thetford, Norfolk, 11 to 14 October 1991. [pdf]. Available here. Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.

Further information will be provided by NFRS if it becomes available.

FBU Incident Report/s;

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Incident Report/s and/or improvement notices;

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Norfolk Constabulary Incident Report/s;

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

East of England Ambulance Service Incident Report;

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Building Research Establishment (BRE) Reports/investigations/research;

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Coroner’s report/s and/or regulation 28 notices;

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Other information sources;

Smith, B. (1991). Many problems for Norfolk; Firefighters thwarted by acid fog. Fire. November. Page 6.

Photo 18

Further information hoping to be identified and still to be located.

Service learning material;

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

Videos available;

No information identified to date and/or still to be located.

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