2020 was a big year for Coopers Fire. The company has relocated its headquarters to a purpose-built, state-of-the-art new facility in Waterlooville, and reimagined its website for the next phase of Coopers Fire’s growth. The company has even managed to complete work on some exciting fire curtain installation projects.
But 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of COVID-19 - the disease that spread around the world and brought life as everyone knows it to a complete standstill. As all the people are thinking of those lost to this terrible virus, it’s almost impossible to remember the bushfires that ravaged Australia in early 2020, or anything other than the progress of the fight against COVID-19. Still, the fire was once again a big feature of the year gone by - and the pandemic had some unexpected effects on fire.
Major fire events in 2020
2020 was one of the worst recorded years for wildfires around the world. In Colorado, a fire ravaged more than 624,000 acres of land, killing at least two and destroying hundreds of structures. Counterintuitively, coronavirus lockdowns could have actually made wildfires worse - due to there being fewer people out spotting fires as they started.
Fire-prone parts of the world must prepare for a future of ever increasing wildfire severity
Despite the focus on eliminating COVID-19 in the short-term, fire-prone parts of the world must prepare for a future of ever increasing wildfire severity. The climate is drying and warming in ways that we hadn’t accounted for; even with the advances in technology helping to track and control wildfires, the people could still find themselves chasing harder and harder each year.
take years to restore
- July 2020 - Nantes Cathedral, France
Barely over a year after a fire ripped through the Notre-Dame cathedral, the historic cathedral in Nantes was set alight in an act of arson. The grand organ, built-in 1621, was destroyed, along with two further smaller organs and ornate windows. The damage was significant but not as severe as the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris - which will take years to restore.
- August 2020 - Port of Beirut, Lebanon
In one of the most shocking and tragic disasters in decades, the world watched in horror as a storage facility at the Port of Beirut caught fire and violently exploded. The blast killed hundreds of people, injured thousands, and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. Some 2,750 tons of illegally stored ammonium nitrate, seized from an abandoned ship in 2013, is alleged to have caught fire.
enormous mass explosion
This chemical is a common fertilizer, but has explosive properties and has been used extensively in bomb-making throughout history. The enormous mass exploded with a force equivalent to 1.1 kilotons of TNT, resulting in a magnitude 3.3 seismic event. It was felt as far afield as Turkey and heard across the water in Cyprus. It was one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history.
Investigations into the fire reported before the explosion are ongoing, but the experts do know that if the ammonium nitrate had been properly stored, the loss of life and damage could have been mitigated dramatically.
domestic fire scenarios
- Fires during the lockdown
When recycling centers were closed over the initial lockdown period, many residents took to burning waste
During the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK, insurers began logging an increase in claims for certain domestic fire scenarios. Great weather throughout the spring and summer (and the fact that there was little else to do) prompted barbecues - some of which got out of hand. Bonfires became more common, too.
When recycling centers and tips were closed down over the initial lockdown period, many residents took to burning their waste - but a handful of inexperienced bonfire makers soon fell afoul of the flames they’d started. One should always be prepared to control fire - even a barbecue. Here are some tips:
- One should never leave fires unattended
- One should be careful with accelerants (firelighters)
- One should wait to take rubbish and garden waste to the tip
- One should dispose of barbecues, cinders, and matches responsibly
- One should keep a bucket of water or sand on standby
automatic temperature readers
- The impact of COVID-19 on architecture and construction
RIBA conducted a survey of architects and firms during the lockdown. It revealed project delays, site closures, and project cancellations. The scale of the impact became apparent; both professional and personal. Now, the industry is adapting to remote work and finding its feet again, as construction projects restart. It seems as if the worst of the downturn is over for the majority of architects and the wider construction industry - but many firms and freelancers will have been hit hard financially.
The good news is that opportunities are emerging, as sectors develop and creativity prevails over adversity. Architects are already designing for a future with COVID, with built-in social distancing measures, contact-free lifts, sanitizer stations, and automatic temperature readers. Whatever the future holds, the people have already shown how resilient one can be when faced with uncertainty - and the public is hopeful for the world’s response to today’s challenges.
Fire safety for the future
Coopers Fire is a renowned provider of fire curtains and also a manufacturer and fire safety advocate. The company works closely with some of the world’s most prominent architects, designers, and construction firms to build the safest buildings possible.