Back in the days when I was still serving in the SA Fire and Emergency Services in Port Elizabeth, one of the major headaches for my team of Fire Safety Inspectors, was a huge shopping mall known as Greenacres Centre. It was fully sprinklered, had all the bells and whistles for smoke and fire control and was reasonably well managed. Since those days many things have changed, not least being that an already very large Mall (It was over 800 metres from one hypermarket at the east end, to the other at the west end with everything else in between and not including the two hyperstores in that) was doubled in length.
Now you would think that the management of a place like that would ensure that everything, and I do mean everything, that protects it from fire would always be topline. You'd also think that if any part of it was non-operational for any reason, special precautions would be in place. You'd be wrong.
This was the scene yesterday morning as the largest of the now four hyperstores burned -
Talking to my friend the present Chief of the Fire and Emergency Service, I learned that the sprinkler system in this part of the Mall had been turned off for "Maintenance." It turns out it had been off for two weeks. Need I add that there is now a full scale police investigation into this fire ...
Frankly, the insurers should refuse to pay.
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