On New Year’s Eve, a fire at a self-storage facility in Croydon meant that almost 12,000 customers lost everything that they had stored within the facility – in some cases this included treasured personal possessions or the entire stock of some businesses. After the event, customers raised concerns and questions regarding fire safety risks within not only the facility in Croydon, but self-storage centres across the country. These concerns were relayed to me by the MP for Croydon North, Steve Reed, who determined that the fire in his constituency, which devastated the lives of many, was an ‘accident waiting to happen.’
The facility’s inadequacies included that the storage units were open at the top allowing the blaze to spread from one unit to the next, a lack of a sprinkler system and 24/7-hour security presence, no records being taken of what was stored in the facility, and considerable issues surrounding the insurance of goods. Given the amount of personal and commercial property which held in these facilities in Huddersfield and nationwide, I feel compelled to share these concerns with their managers and owners. As such, I have corresponded with each facility in Huddersfield, urging them to consider the answers to the questions below in order to identify, pre-empt and resolve any safety concerns which could cause irreversible damage. The questions include:
- How does the design of your self-storage facility prevent fire from spreading once it starts? E.g. are the individual units fully contained with no gaps through which fire can spread; what other fire containment measures are present; are sprinklers installed throughout the facility?
- Are security staff on-site 24/7, and if not how is the site monitored when it is not staffed?
- What checks are made to ensure that customers do not store flammable materials on site?
- Are all entry points to the site (including loading bays) fully secured or monitored at all times to prevent accessed to unauthorised persons?
- Are all insurance services you offer to customers fully regulated by UK regulatory authorities or are they structured in ways that subject them to regulation by other jurisdictions?
- Are all staff giving advice to customers on buying insurance, insurance risk and levels of cover fully trained, and how are untrained staff prevented from giving advice?
I am confident that if we can identify any risks and manage them accordingly, we can mitigate the possibility that the events of Croydon will be unnecessarily repeated and further property destroyed.