ONE of Southampton’s most historic and iconic buildings was saved from serious damage thanks to its in-built sprinkler system, it has been revealed.

Fire crews were called to the Solent Flour Mills building at Western Docks after fire broke out on the second floor.

Firefighters in breathing apparatus entered the building – operated by Rank Hovis – and found the second floor heavily smoke-logged.

They located and put out the fire, which had started in a milling machine.

All staff were evacuated from the building.

The damage was limited to the affected machine thanks to the sprinkler system.

Daily Echo:

The damaged milling machine at Solent Flour Mills

South Central Ambulance Service, which sent its hazardous area response team, plus an ambulance, said it treated two people at the scene, taking one of them to Southampton General Hospital with minor injuries.

Group manager Ryan Thurman, the fire officer in charge of the incident which started just before 10am yesterday, said: “The presence of sprinklers in the building prevented this fire from becoming a life-threatening incident and also saved the building and the business from serious damage.

“The activation of the sprinklers meant the fire was kept under control and was stopped from spreading, which helped protect not only the staff in the building but also our firefighters who went in to tackle the flames.”

He added: “Historic buildings such as the mill are able to have sprinklers fitted and they are now so well designed that only the sprinkler head closest to the fire will activate, preventing unnecessary water damage to the rest of a building.

“The effect of fire on a company can be catastrophic and systems such as the one installed at the mill can save not only lives but also businesses and jobs.”

Bob Spooner, chief executive officer at Hovis, added: “At Hovis, protecting people from harm is a business priority and we’re committed to achieving the highest standards of protection and prevention.

“We have a great track record and it is good to see that our fire protection processes and systems worked well when required. I’d like to thank everyone on the site for their swift action and especially the team from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for their excellent response.”