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CROSS-UK press statement about fire and structural collapse at Luton Airport multi-storey car park

Region: CROSS-UK Published: 11 October 2023

Dr Alastair Soane, Principal Consultant for CROSS-UK (Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures UK) comments:

Fires in car parks are not uncommon, but a fire of this magnitude is rare.

A full investigation will be required to understand what has happened. We do not yet know the reasons for this fire and structural damage to this multi-storey car park.

While we await further news from the site regarding the cause of this fire and the impact on the structure it is inappropriate to speculate.

When details on the fire are available, we will help to disseminate lessons learned so that similar events can be prevented in future.


CROSS operates a confidential reporting system which allows professionals working in the built environment to report on fire and structural safety issues. 

These are then published anonymously to share lessons learned, create positive change, and improve safety. Past CROSS reports have raised concerns around the standards of fire protection to the structure of car parks, and the impact of novel fuel sources, such as Lithium-ion batteries. 

These can be found on the CROSS-UK website.


Fire in multi-storey car parks : 1 February 2018 – This examined the severe fire at the Liverpool Echo Arena MSCP on 31st December 2017 which gutted the seven-storey building and where up to 1,400 cars were destroyed. This fire was unprecedented in scale because, unusually, the initial fire in one car rapidly spread to other cars. This Alert drew attention to the fact that similar events could occur again, and all those in the car parking business must be aware of the risks. 


Fire risks in multi-storey car parks : 14 October 2020 – This report examined the concerns by a reporter to CROSS who was concerned by the reluctance of the industry to voluntarily take on board and proactively react to the lessons learnt from the fire at the Echo Arena car park in Liverpool.

Fire resistance of multi-storey car parks : 1 October 2019 – A reporter to CROSS had visited a recently constructed car park which contained some of the same design issues discussed in the 1 February 2018 Alert on Fire in Multi-Storey Car Parks (see above). The reporter was concerned that the car park they visited could survive for significantly more than 15 minutes in a fire without collapsing.

Fire protection to car park steel frame : 26 October 2022 - A reporter was concerned about the fire protection of a steel framed car park above a retail unit.

Related to these reports is the Institution of Structural Engineers recently published Car Park Guidance which addressed the risks associated with fire in car park design, construction and maintenance.

Notes to Editors


About CROSS: 


  • Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures (CROSS) is a trusted provider of free safety information, helping built environment professionals to make structures safer.

  • It is an independent, confidential, and voluntary scheme for reporting concerns about fire and structural safety. Voluntary submissions by built environment professionals are anonymised and deidentified, so learning can be shared within a no-blame culture.

  • CROSS Expert Panel volunteers analyse and provide comments on anonymised submissions. The resulting Safety Reports are published and made freely available to all interested parties.

  • In addition to Safety Reports, CROSS provides a range of independent, quality, and free safety information. Further details about CROSS content is available on its website.

  • CROSS operates internationally, currently in the UK, Australasia (since 2018) and the USA (since 2019).

  • It is an initiative by the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). It is supported by the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

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