This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.


The end of the pier...

One of the abiding images of 2008’s summer, apart from leaden clouds, was the sight of Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier ablaze in the process of being reduced to a charred shell. Last week it was revealed that an electrical fault was the likely cause and that the complete destruction of the pier could have been averted had the manned alarm response contract not been cancelled just a month before the fire…

Reports suggest an alarm signal was sent to the monitoring company at 0135 on the 28th July, but the fire service was not called until 0645. Somerset Fire & Rescue have stated they believe that with the 5 extra hours, the 104 year old structure could have been saved. The pier’s demise had a huge impact on the Weston-super-Mare community, and the news that the fire service were not contacted immediately will undoubtedly be hard to swallow.

The reason for the delay was that the contract with a security firm to send a manned guard to check the building and if necessary call the fire service was cancelled in June. The alarm monitoring company instead attempted to contact the key holder, who they say did not answer their phone.

If the loss of a building can rightly be described as a tragedy, then this certainly comes close. An electrical fault in the cabling to the pier illuminations is though to have been the initial cause of the blaze, but the fact it got so out of control is clearly down to the lack of a proper escalation procedure on the part of the pier’s owners.

This case is proof that installing a fire alarm system into a building will only get you part the way to full protection from a blaze. A proper response mechanism needs to be in place for the alarm to be of any use.

A more sophisticated AFD (Automatic Fire Detection) system could have reduced the need for a manned response in the first place by detecting the presence of a significant blaze and automatically informing the fire services. These systems have improved greatly over the last few years (with a much lower instance of false alarms) and one would hope are being used in the majority of historic buildings.

But on the plus side, a new pavilion is already in the early stages of planning with Angus Meek Architects winning the contract to carry out a £10m redevelopment. Hopefully a decent proportion of the £10m will be spent ensuring the new pier doesn’t meet a fiery end.

Enjoy the newsletter,

Richard Scott

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page

Electrical Products