Luton Airport vows to 'learn lessons' from car park fire as bosses defend not installing sprinklers

Credit: ITV Anglia/@Soriyn23 on Twitter

London Luton Airport car park fire lessons will be learned after multi-storey blaze
Airport bosses say they "never saw the fire coming", in response to the building not having a sprinkler system Credit: ITV Anglia/@Soriyn23 on Twitter

Airport bosses have promised to "learn lessons" from a devastating multi-storey car park fire, but said no one could have foreseen the blaze.

The fire ripped through London Luton Airport's Terminal Car Park 2 on Tuesday night and several floors "partially collapsed" as a result of the damage.

No one was seriously injured, but hundreds of cars are believed to have been damaged or destroyed.

Early investigations by Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service revealed the fire was started from a diesel car and the building did not have a sprinkler system.

The fire service chief told reporters that sprinklers "may have made a positive impact" to halt the fire and it was discussing with the airport to ensuring future and existing car parks had sprinklers fitted.

However, the airport's bosses have defended not installing sprinklers, as they are "not a requirement" in buildings of that kind.

Councillor Javeria Hussain, chair of Luton Rising, the Luton Council company which owns the Bedfordshire airport, said: "We will work with the operator of the airport to ensure we learn lessons and ensure appropriate measures are put in place going forward.

"What’s happened here is a shock and we never saw it coming.

"We’re in shock and distress because the airport is at the beating heart of Luton’s community. It's the biggest employer in the town and the fire was a massive blow."

Planning documents seen by ITV News Anglia have revealed Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service was consulted on the design but did not request that sprinklers be fitted when the car park was planned in 2017.

However, adhering to recommendations by the National Fire Chiefs Council, the service said it now advised sprinklers should be installed on new buildings.

Ms Hussain said it was "too soon" to discuss costs following the fire or to tell holidaymakers when they would find out what would happen to their cars stuck in the building.

"We’re doing the very best we can," she said. "We’re alerting customers who are abroad and do not know about their cars.

"Luton Council is taking a lead role in the recovery and assessing the damage. We're working as quickly as we can to get airport back to normal.

"We are working to understand the cost implications and assessing how we move forward, together."

The fire at Luton Airport's multi-storey car park. Credit: Twitter/@Soriyn23

She added the council did not believe there would be a long term impact on the airport or its expansion plans.

Nick Orwin, emergency planning manager at Luton Airport, said: "We are looking at the safety around the site to make sure there is no recurrence.

"They are specialists and they are working hard to make sure it is safe for our passengers.

"We always are looking at safety across our site."

Flights from the airport resumed at 3pm on Wednesday and a spokesman said on Thursday it was now fully operational.

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