Fire at East Sussex County Council offices in Lewes

31st October 2016

Lewes Fire Incident 

Fire broke out on the second floor in the early hours causing smoke damage to 5 other floors.

Our Approach 

We look at fire or flood as an incident which has created specific problems for the client. The specific problems from the Lewes Fire at the County Hall were about operations and establishing business as usual continuity for the council staff. Challenges for the council staff included :

  1. Where do they safely house the 250 staff affected?
  2. How to ensure as little disruption to the services provided by the affected departments? All the departments affected are related to social services and education.
  3. How does the facilities and operations department cope with this alongside their day to day pressures?

Our approach was to focus on Lewes County Councils operational issues first and provide the most cost effective and least disruptive solution within the constraints of health and safety requirements. We took full responsibility for the cleaning, drying and re-instatement of aspects of their emergency, taking the weight off their shoulders and allowing their staff to concentrate on the rest of their responsibilities.

Work carried out

Case study council office fire1
Case study council office fire2

Floor And Room Fire

  • Extracted sitting water from fire services
  • Installed drying equipment to dry out the fire damaged building
  • Created safe environment for staff to access personal effects and confidential information and paperwork
  • Strip-out of fixtures, fittings and office furniture
  • Media blasting concrete surface of floor
  • Deodorised the surfaces and rooms
  • Cleaned and sealed affected walls
Case study council office fire3
Case study council office fire4

Soot affected offices, lift lobbies and stairs

  • Cleaned and deodorised office chairs and carpets
  • Cleaned and deodorised all office hard furniture, electrical equipment and paperwork
  • Cleaned and deodorised all walls and building fixtures and fittings

Throughout the whole process, we worked closely with the facilities team, building contractors, IT team, loss adjuster and other council contractors. This fire in Lewes at the County Hall was quickly forgotten as we were able to quickly reinstate and renovate the offices ahead of the agreed timescales.

Restoration Achievement

  1. All carpets excluding floor coverings on the floor of the fire were restored requiring no replacement
  2. All office furniture excluding items on the floor of the fire were restored requiring no replacement
  3. All electrical equipment excluding items on the floor of the fire and some IT equipment on the floor above were restored requiring no replacement
  4. All building fixtures were successfully cleaned excluding items on the floor of the fire
  5. Limiting re-instatement cost on the floor of the fire. This was achieved with media blasting, effective drying and soot locking
  6. Our quick response created big savings in terms of disruption and relocation cost


  • Within 1 hour of call out we had a Senior Technician on site to assess the damage, identify the client’s specific problem and create a plan with a realistic time scales and actions which were agreed with the Council Facilities Management Team
  • 3 hours on, a team arrived on site to commence cleaning work on the smoke damaged floors and extract the sitting water from the fire service and start the drying of the affected floor
  • Within 24 hours three of the smoke damaged floor levels and hall, stairs and lift were handed over for occupation.
  • Within 3 days the third and fourth smoke damaged floors were handed back for occupation
  • Fire level floors were handed over dry and fire cleaned ready for refinement work in 14 working days.

Client comment

“Rainbow provided excellent service, working very quickly and efficiently with the council’s contractors – keeping everyone, involved in the project, fully updated on progress and costs throughout.” 

Terry Diamond
Senior Property Adjuster QuestGates, Chartered Loss Adjusters & Claims Specialists

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