North Haven, CT – Sprinkler system activated in fire at manufacturing plant

Chief Paul Januszewski reports that the North Haven Fire Department battled an early morning fire at an industrial facility on Saturday, according to a news release.

Firefighters responded to the Parker-Hannifin Corporation, located at 33 Defco Park Road, at 3:11 a.m., after receiving a call from a police officer working a paid detail nearby. The officer reported smoke showing in the area. Upon arrival, firefighters had flames coming from the rear of a 32,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility.

The building’s sprinkler system had activated, but the fire alarm was not activated.

Fire was showing through the roof, and firefighters began an aggressive attack to attempt to limit the damage and keep the flames from spreading. Despite the cold weather doing its best hamper efforts, the crews were successful in stopping the fire, and containing the most serious damage to about 10 percent of the structure. The fire was declared under control at approximately 5 a.m.

No one was injured, but during firefighting efforts, it was determined that a large quantity of acids and other chemicals used in the manufacturing process were present at the scene and had spilled or leaked during the fire.

Chief Januszewski has declared a hazardous materials incident. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and a private environmental contracting company were called to the scene to access and clean the chemicals, and the North Haven Fire Department is providing decontamination for workers, as is standard procedure in these types of incidents.

“This was a challenging fire, with a large facility, bitterly cold conditions and the added element of unknown and potentially dangerous chemicals present at the scene,” Chief Januszewski said in a news release. “I would like to commend our overnight fire crews and mutual aid partners for working diligently to contain this fire to only one portion of the building, despite the fire’s head start with a non-functioning alarm system present in the building. Additionally, had it not been for the alert police officer in the area, the outcome may have been much worse.”

Officials believe at this time that the design of the building worked to mitigate any exposure of the chemicals to the ground and environment.

Interior operations and the fire investigation will begin a soon as all of the chemicals are identified and removed by the contractor.

Fire crews from Wallingford and Hamden also responded to the scene to provide mutual aid, and the North Branford Fire Department provided station coverage.

Once the cleanup is finished and fire investigation are underway, investigators will also look into why the fire alarm system, which had been inspected in the past calendar year, failed to notify the fire department. Chief Januszewski indicates that remodeling and construction work was taking place at the facility, and officials will investigate if that played any role in either the failure of the fire alarm of the outbreak of the fire.

Parker-Hannifin is a manufacturer of gaskets and seals for aircraft.

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