Authorities are investigating a huge fire that broke out at AED Group’s Willebroek, Belgium headquarters last Sunday, destroying both the new inventory warehouse and the adjacent AED Cases factory (pictured). The cost of the damage has been estimated at €3.5 million.
AED staff received an automatic alert from the on-site alarm system at 4am on Sunday 4 November. “The crew arrived at 4.15am and located a fire in the technical department where a specialised piece of machinery apparently caused the fire,” explains Glenn Roggeman, CEO of AED Group. “The local fire brigade arrived at 4.40am, assisted by fire departments from nearby communities Mechelen, Boom and Puurs. Some 12 fire engines took part in the extinguishing of the buildings and material.”
The company’s 1,200m2 assembly hall was completely destroyed, in addition to all of AED’s flightcase construction materials manufacture and around 450 completed cases. “All of the equipment that was flightcased on the last working day before the All Saint’s weekend was destroyed as well, including over 250 newly arrived Lodestar hoists, ready for rental assignments,” Roggeman adds. “We must calculate a substantial delay in Lodestar rental gear and will have to pass on for some events and exhibitions until January.”
Two brand new audio consoles (a Yamaha CL3 and a Soundcraft Si Performer) were destroyed by the fire, as were five of the latest GrandMA2 full-size light mixing consoles.
“Total damages are estimated at some €800.000 worth of video equipment, €1.5 million in lighting and audio kit, half a million euros in specialised machinery, computers and materials, plus an estimated cost of €1 million for the damaged buildings,” calculates Roggeman. “We managed to recuperate some 70 hoists with water damage, but discovered over 200 units that were simply melted in the heat of the inferno.”
Fire spread at the HQ despite AED being equipped with sprinkler extinguishing systems, CO2 fire extinguishers and an alarm equipment. The office of the public prosecutor is currently investigating the case.
At press time, some 40 workers were cleaning and removing the debris. “At first we were not allowed the entry to the building by the insurance experts,” says Roggeman. “But any delay would cause problems to our core business, and eventually we [were allowed to start] cleaning. The two destroyed buildings will have to be constructed from scratch, which requires a new building permit.”
Glenn Roggeman underlined that other divisions AED Rent, AED Sales, AED Store and AED Distribution were not affected by Sunday’s dramatic events, and that the company’s quick response continues to guarantee full service to AED clients.