Sprinkler activation saves young mum and her son from fire

Published: 5 December 2018

A young mother, who says her life was probably saved by a sprinkler that put out a fire in her flat, believes the council is doing the right thing by wanting to retro-fit sprinklers across its tower blocks.

Charice Evans, 19, of Nightingale Square, Balham, says the fire, which broke out while she and two-year-old son were both in the property, could have had disastrous consequences if it hadn’t been for the sprinkler.

She said: “I put the frying pot on the stove to fry some dumplings and left the kitchen to watch TV, whilst I waited for the oil to heat up.

“After a couple of minutes I heard a sprinkling sound and then a loud bang and ran back to the kitchen to see the place in flames. 

“I’ve got mummy brain at the moment, as I’m pregnant with my second child and totally forgot that I’d left the pan on the stove. I didn’t want the fire to cause any harm to my son, so I grabbed him and ran out of the house.”

The fire in the kitchen activated a sprinkler head which extinguished the fire by the time the London Fire Brigade arrived. Both mother and son escaped with no injury.

She added: “I think what the council is doing is sensible, because if it hadn’t been for the sprinkler it could’ve been a lot worse.”

Wandsworth Council is currently installing sprinklers across the borough’s 25 sheltered housing blocks and its 15 temporary accommodation buildings and is planning to also put them into 100 of the borough’s tallest tower blocks. The video below shows a modern sprinkler system in a show flat. 

Cllr Caddy, cabinet member for housing, said: “This incident reinforces just how important and effective sprinklers are and underlines why we are carrying out the work we are doing.

“After the terrible events at Grenfell we made the move to install sprinklers in all our tower blocks of ten storeys or above so they were brought into line with current new build standards where sprinklers have been mandatory since 2007.

“This will improve fire safety in around 6,400 homes and is one of a series of measures we are taking to improve the safety of residents within their homes across the borough.”