§ Mr. Sanders
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what toxins were present in the atmosphere as a result of the fire at the Wilton Bradley factory, Long Road, Paignton;
(2) if he will make a statement about the emergency services' response to the Wilton Bradley factory fire, Long Road, Paignton, on Friday 10 December; 
(3) when the last risk inspection was carried out by the Fire and Rescue Service at the Wilton Bradley factory, Long Road, Paignton; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what reports he has received about the advice given by the Fire Service on the safety systems which were in place at the Wilton Bradley factory, Long Road, Paignton to minimise the risk of and spread of fire; 
(5) what are the risks to human health from (a) the inhalation and (b) the ingestion of the chemicals released in the fire at the Wilton Bradley factory, Long Road, Paignton; and if he will make a statement; 
(6) if he will publish the tactical information plan for the Wilton Bradley factory, Long Road, Paignton; 274W
(7) when the Devon Fire Service Chemdata in respect of the Wilton Bradley factory, Long Road, Paignton, was last updated; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Mike O'Brien
I have received the following information from the Chief Fire Officer, Devon Fire and Rescue Service.
The premises were built in 1970, and were issued with a Fire Certificate under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 on 18 February 1991. This certificate related to the use of the premises as a cash and carry warehouse.
Plans submitted by the current occupiers during June 1998, for approval under the Buildings Regulations, were considered for compliance by both the Torbay Council and Devon Fire and Rescue Service. The standards applied are contained in the Building Regulations Approved Document B. The intent of the Regulations is to secure reasonable standards of health and safety for persons in or about the building. There is no requirement for a building put to this use and of this size to be provided with either automatic fire detection or sprinklers. On receipt of a Building Regulations Completion Certificate, in respect of the work covered by the plans, an inspection was to have been carried out with the intent of updating the Fire Certificate.
On 1 December 1999 the Fire Precautions (Workplace) (Amendments) Regulations 1999 came into force, placing a requirement upon the employer to carry out a risk assessment to minimise the risk of and spread of fire.
The Devon Fire and Rescue Service is currently carrying out a programme of visits to all certificated premises raising the awareness of the employer regarding these Regulations. These visits are intended to:give fire prevention advice;gather operational information; andenforce fire safety legislation as appropriate.
The last visit by the fire service to the Wilton Bradley factory, Paignton, was on 25 January 1999. This was a fire safety inspection carried out by operational firefighters from Paignton fire station.
Devon Fire and Rescue Service received the call to the fire at the Wilton Bradley Factory at 22.58 hours on 9 December 1999. A fire engine was en route to the site at 23.00 hours and in attendance at the fire at 23.04 hours. This was well within the 8–10 minute maximum response time recommended by the minimum standard of fire cover for the area. As a matter of policy the brigade mobilised two fire engines and one supervisory officer immediately. The second fire engine arrived at 23.07 hours and the officer at 23.17 hours. At the height of the incident a total of 17 fire brigade appliances (including specialist vehicles) and 80 firefighters attended. There was a multi-agency response including police, ambulance and environmental health.
The Tactical Information Plan is a new concept based upon a computer based operational plan recently devised by Devon Fire and Rescue Service in order to ensure that firefighters have appropriate information at the scene of an incident. The system is in the early stages of development and, at the time of the incident, the premises had not been visited.275W
The first air quality monitoring measurements were acquired by Somerset Scientific Services on behalf of Torbay Council at 12 mid-day on 10 December. Air samples for hydrogen chloride, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen fluoride styrene and ammonia were examined at that time and all were negative in the building with the exception of hydrogen chloride which read two parts per million. The tests were repeated in Long Road at 13.30 hours when all results were negative with the exception of hydrogen chloride which was recorded at less than one part per million.
In total 47 individual air samples were taken and the only other positive recordings were in respect of hydrogen cyanide at one part per million in Kingsway Drive, Paignton, at the properties closest to the fire. At this location eight tests for hydrogen cyanide were repeated and two registered levels at one part per million, the remainder were negative.
34 environmental samples were taken of vegetation/ leaves, soil, food and water and remain to be analysed and 58 samples were taken searching for asbestos including bulk asbestos swabs, vegetation and airborne fibre counts. Results of these analyses are awaited but of the 16 airborne fibre counts examined no asbestos fibres were found.
South and West Devon Health Authority has reported a number of minor symptoms experienced by people who were exposed to the smoke; about 18 people attended the local Accident and Emergency Department, 10 contacted a General Practitioner and about 20 telephoned National Health Service Direct. The symptoms reported included eye and skin irritation and mild breathing problems. There were no reports of serious symptoms directly caused by the smoke.
Monitoring results did not reveal any significant toxic substances and no long term effects are expected. The low levels of hydrogen chloride that were detected would explain the symptoms described.
The Public Health Department at South and West Devon Health Authority is carrying out a questionnaire survey in the affected area in order to document the health effects of the incident and to monitor the population for potential long term effects, although these are considered to be unlikely.
Chemdata is a generic chemical information database widely used throughout the fire service. As such it is not premises specific. Devon Fire and Rescue Service had in place the latest version of the database at the time of the fire. This updated database was loaded onto the Devon Fire and Rescue Service computer system on 23 November 1999.
§ Mr. Sanders
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many factory fire incidents involving chemicals occurred, broken down by fire authority, in each of the past 10 years for which figures are available. 
§ Mr. Mike O'Brien
The information requested is not readily available and I will reply as soon as possible.