Kent firefighters have been praised for their quick thinking and effective firefighting following a large fire at a scaffolding yard in Station Road, Sutton-at-Hone last night.
Crews were called to the fire, close to Farningham Road Railway Station, at 00.29 on Tuesday 17 February 2015. Kent Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager Andrew Ray said on arrival crews were faced with a large and well developed fire: “Crews were faced with a real challenge in the location of the fire which was between Network Rail infrastructure and Station Road.
He added: “The closure of the rail infrastructure was essential to the firefighting that was planned with our height vehicle. Although the railway lines are closed to passenger traffic at that time, engineering trains run up and down North Kent railway lines, so we needed to work with Network Rail to close the rail and totally isolate the live rail, because of the risk from the large volumes of water needed to tackle the blaze from a good vantage point.”
The railway line that takes trains to and from London Victoria was closed, as was Farningham Road Railway Station and Station Road. Once the full extent of the fire had been established, it was a priority for the crews to get the railway lines reopened for the commuters of Kent to get to work.
Crews used the compressed air foam system (CAFS) to tackle the fire, which helps reduce the time spent fighting fires by up to 30 times because of the way the water and foam work together. Firefighters also used a height vehicle, three main jets, a hose reel jet and breathing apparatus.
Andrew Ray said a combination of the equipment used, quick thinking and team work helped the crews gain control quickly: “Full credit must go to the crews for the work they did. It was particularly challenging given the rail infrastructure that proved a challenge and that the building was a steel structure that had lost its strength and had started to collapse. They really should be congratulated for that hard work carried out early on in controlling the fire and for a good tactical plan that was implemented, that brought the fire under control and helped get the railway line re-opened so quickly.
Farningham Road Station and Station Road were re-opened with all rail services back up and running from 5.30am.
Once the fire was out crews damped down and eventually left the scene after 10 hours of firefighting. An investigation into the fire is underway and is being conducted by KFRS’ Fire Investigation Research Team and British Transport Police.