A FIRE boss claims to have recommended a sprinkler system was installed on Eastbourne Pier twice in recent years – but his advice was ignored by the pier’s owners.

Andy Reynolds, director of prevention and protection at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said the owners of Eastbourne Pier were told in 2006 and 2009 to install sprinklers.

However he claims the owners ignored the advice as sprinklers were not enforceable by law.

Mr Reynolds said: “On at least two occasions we recommended to the owners of the pier that they should install sprinklers.

“It’s not enforceable and for them probably not cost effective so they didn’t take up the option. Without a doubt sprinklers would have helped reduce the damage of the fire.

“When they’re fitted correctly and operating they do a good job. They detect fires with heat sensitive bulbs that react to a certain temperature.

“As soon as it hits the right temperature, the sprinkler operates and is connected to an alarm.

“There still would have been a fire, but the sprinkler system holds it in check so it wouldn’t have grown.”

Mr Reynolds said he would be pushing for the installation of a sprinkler system in the pier’s refurbishment following the news the town would receive £2 million from government.

He added: “There are none on Brighton Pier, were none on Eastbourne and none on Hastings. It’s only a matter of time before it happens again so I hope the likes of Brighton take note from what’s happened in Eastbourne and get installing.

“Brighton has a drenching system in place but not a complete sprinkler system.”

Eastbourne Pier had not responded to Mr Reynold’s comments before publication.

Anne Martin, manger at Brighton’s Palace Pier, said she was “bemused” by Mr Reynold’s comments.

She said: “I’m sure we’ll be able to engage in conversation with the fire authority but we have a fire risk assessment approved by East Sussex Fire and Rescue so I’m a little bemused by his comments.

“We are confident that what we have here is as good as we can get. We continue to ask the public to be careful with things like cigarettes but we have 24 cover on the pier and regular fire training, which is what they recommended.”