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Learning From the Ocado Fire


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I am intrigued by the Ocado Andover fire insofar as the award winning fire sprinkler system apparently did not achieve its aim at containing fire spread.

Of course, care needs to be taken in any replies to this thread, and I suggest any guesswork related to the actual fire and its causes or any problems should not be discussed at this time. What I would like to know is if anyone here knows anything about the fire safety strategy or any details of the fire suppression system in use.

I have been involved in a project to protect a much smaller robotic distribution & storage facility that deals with highly valuable stock, and am anxious to learn as much about the fire safety infrastructure at this Ocado site as possible

So if you are aware of any details of this premises and its fire safety management, or have found anything on line, I would be obliged if you would share it



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Having attended the incident, I'm guessing that this will be quite a detailed fire safety report on the reasons why or why not the system behaved in this scenario.

I guess this will shape future requirements.

There was lots of bods in fire engineering tabards there during my attendance.

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@Becile I bet the fire safety engineer geeks were all sitting in their Prius's around the corner tapping on their laptops and checking their calculations!!

Of course I wouldn't want or ask you to comment, but I am particularly interested to discover whether the story is true that the fire originated in a robot and if it was in the charging dock at the time? The robots in my project are on a track and pick their power supply from the same track, thereby reducing the battery ignition risk

I am also intrigued as to how any of the staff were supposed to access a robot that is alight with an extinguisher if its in the middle of the grid. Maybe the strategy was for the sprinklers to to deal with any such fire, but the fire would have to be fairly well developed before a sprinkler would operate. I will wait patiently for news

Could I ask you a favour though? If moving forward, you become aware of any open source publications, talks or media in relation to this fire, could you let me know please. Thanks


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  • 5 months later...


If you ever needed a dramatic case study to support fire safety training in the workplace, this is it. I will definitely be using it when more is known

I am not apportioning blame here as there are far too few details, but the staff clearly got it very wrong here. Was it that they were spooked as the fire alarm didn't go off properly and it threw their procedures? Was it because their training was insufficient? Was it that they simply didn't listen to the instructions given to them? The blame game will run for many years on this one.

In the portfolio of premises I look after, we use aspirating smoke detection extensively. I will be very interested to understand more of what went wrong on that score

I will look forward to the full report in Sept and hope it is made public 

Thanks for sharing @Becile


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I obviously couldn’t say anything at the time , but there was a strong feeling from the experts present that initial systems had failed, it seems at this point that the humans thought they knew better (or weren’t told ).

As a positive...it makes (or will make ) a great case study.

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  • 7 months later...

@Messyshaw i'm interested in this topic , did you uncover any more information? Apparently the manager on duty was on his first night shift 😮

I'm intrigued as to why the vesda system failed to indicate and give an early warning .  We know Firefighting in such an area is extremely challenging so any more thoughts on extinguishing automated warehouse fires with zero access ?!

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After the initial openness demonstrated by Hampshire F&RS when they published this document, the trail has gone cold. 

The VESDA issue - why didn't it operate - is one that concerns me as many businesses rely heavily on this type of smoke detection

If anyone can point towards more recent reporting, @Trident will buy you a beer ;)


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