Catastrophic Failures
05 Oct 2017

In September 2010, an espresso machine at a branch of Sainsbury’s in Farnborough failed catastrophically. The pressure relief valve in the machine failed to operate correctly, resulting in the over-pressurisation of the vessel, which subsequently exploded. The event caused injury to 15 people, 6 of whom had to be taken to hospital with injuries to their backs and necks.

Suppliers of espresso machines have been unanimous in saying that the accident illustrates the importance of ensuring espresso machines are treated with care, that is is acknowledged and understood that commercial espresso machines contain pressure vessels that operate at high levels, and that it is a legal requirement that pressure vessels are regularly inspected by a suitably qualified person.

 A spokesperson of the Coffee Council said:

“… this is a serious reminder to the catering operator that it is their responsibility to ensure that they adhere to health and safety directives. This is a directive that has for years been reiterated by suppliers but has all too often been ignored by some operators.”

More recently, in December 2016, Fleet Services in Hampshire was affected by a major blaze. Confirmed reports suggested that the fire was caused by a failure of their coffee machine. The unsafe positioning of the machine acted as a catalyst in spreading the blaze – with water and steam from the machine entering the nearby fryers and intensifying the flames. It was fortunate that in this instance, no one was injured.

It’s important when installing a machine not just to consider the safety of the machine itself, but its surroundings. Locating a machine in a tight alcove, close to other heat sources or in a position that inhibits accessibility could all create dangerous situations.

Fleet Services Fire – Credit: Rushmoor Fire Station

Brian Rudman, Group Commander of North Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service said:The fire was very intense and spread to other parts of the service area but thanks to the hard work of the crews we’ve managed to save sections and some will be able to re-open.”  

You can read more about the fire at Fleet in our latest issue of our newsletter, Working Pressure

Pictures used with kind permission.