Press Release – 23.10.2013: The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) has renewed its call for sprinklers to be fitted in high-risk buildings, after a serious fire at Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre last night.
Ten fire engines attended the fire at the Kidlington Centre and one casualty was rescued by fire crews, and remains in a critical condition. One hundred and eighty people were evacuated from the accommodation block where the fire started, and there was substantial damage to the roof and second floor of the building. Campsfield House did not have sprinklers fitted, despite an earlier incident involving the same accommodation block, during which Oxfordshire FRS had strongly recommended their installation.
Chief Fire Officer for Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, Dave Etheridge said: “At the height of the incident, we had 10 fire engines at the scene – from Kidlington, Woodstock, Eynsham, Rewley Road, Slade, Witney and Bicester – working closely with the detention centre staff, and our Ambulance and Police colleagues.”
“We are currently working with the Police to investigate the cause of the fire, which spread rapidly from the second floor into the roof void, resulting in extensive damage to the roof area and fire and smoke damage to the second floor of the two-storey building.”
“We had an incident at Campsfield several years ago, and formally wrote to the Home Office recommending the fitting of sprinklers due to the nature and behaviour of the occupants, plus the high probability of another similar incident. The Home Office elected not to fit sprinklers during the refurbishment.”
CFOA President, Paul Fuller, said: “The Oxfordshire crews and emergency service colleagues did a tremendous job at this incident and should be commended. However the extensive spread of the fire might have been halted before the lives of firefighters and the centre’s staff and residents were put at risk, had the Home Office listened to Oxfordshire Fire Service’s advice to fit sprinklers at the Campsfield Centre.”
“There is a precedent for sprinklers to be fitted in immigration centres – as they were in Yarlswood, Bedfordshire, and Harmsworth in London – following serious fires at those facilities. We would call upon the Home Office to install sprinkler systems in all similar properties, which are proven to save lives and reduce injuries, protect firefighters, and reduce the amount of damage to both property and the environment.”
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Background: Close Campsfield: Fire at Campsfield
Listen to a detainee witness account to Corporate Watch at https://soundcloud.com/corporate-watch/campsfield-fire-detainee
We understand 133 detainees have been moved to other centres.
See Corporate Watch site for Home Office response to detainee giving his account.
Updates to follow when possible.
About half of Campsfield House’s detainees have been relocated Continue reading the main story
The Campsfield House immigration removal centre in Kidlington near Oxford has been damaged by fire, the Home Office has said.
Two detainees have been taken to hospital as a result of the blaze.
It happened at about 21:00 BST on Friday with 10 fire engines being called to the scene.
About half of the detainees are being relocated to other centres because of damage to the building, a Home Office spokesman said.
The cause of the fire, which broke out in one of the centre’s three blocks, is being investigated by police and the fire service.
Campsfield House is a long-term centre, privately run by MITIE, where men are detained under immigration laws.
According to the UK Border Agency, the centre has bed spaces for 216 male detainees.