All posts by Paul King

Brigade offers free training to motorcyclists to help make capital’s roads safer

As part of the national Biker Down series of courses LFB are offering motorcyclists safety training in a bid to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

Thanks to funding from Lambeth Council, courses will be run on a monthly basis. The training course is set up in partnership with London Ambulance Service, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police.  Biker Down is available to any motorcyclist  who lives, rides or studies in London.

The Brigade’s Head of Community Safety, Chris O’Connor, said: “When a motorcyclist is involved in a collision, often the first person on the scene is another rider.  The course teaches riders both how they can help if they come across a motorcycle collision and motorcycle-specific immediate aid training, such as how to treat major bleeding and safe helmet removal but also the types of issues to look out for to prevent a crash in the first place, for example, speeding.”

A total of 30 places are available with 15 spaces at each session. Visit the Biker Down webpage for more information if you’re interested in attending a session and to book a place. Forthcoming dates for the training course are:

  • Saturday 30 September
  • Sunday 29 October
  • Saturday 25 November
  • Sunday 28 January 2018.

Biker Down, which was devised by Kent Fire and Rescue Service, involves a group training session delivered by firefighters and LAS Motorcycle Response Paramedics.

Participants receive a certificate of attendance, an immediate aid kit designed to be carried under the seat of a bike and qualify for a discount to attend the Bike Safe London Rider Skills Day scheme.

Paul King, Charlton Ross Director and keen motorcyclist has attended the course and said “any initiative that can help raise awareness of risk and how to deal with the aftermath of an accident is a good thing.  Motorcyclists, like cyclists are a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to road safety and represent a disproportionate number of those killed or seriously injured on our roads.  We at Charlton Ross fully support this training”

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton calls for sprinkler protection in all tower blocks

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton is urging Government to act.   The time for action on sprinklers in residential high-rise buildings and schools is now.

The call is made as the Grenfell Tower Inquiry formally opens.

Cotton said: “The tragic fire at Grenfell has thrown fire safety into the spotlight and while we are not pre-empting the findings of the Inquiry, now is the time to remind Government of life-saving recommendations we have been making for years.

We are calling for residential tower blocks to be retrofitted with sprinklers and they should be mandatory in all new school builds and major refurbishments.

Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and raises the alarm. They save lives  and protect property and they are especially important where there are vulnerable residents who would find it difficult to escape, like those with mobility problems. ”

 

Commissioner Cotton continued: “For years builders, developers, local authorities and private housing providers have ignored the clear benefits of sprinklers.

“It’s not just about homes, we go to around 80 fires in London schools every year. Fires in schools cause major disruption to pupils, breakfast and after school clubs are cancelled and often, a costly repair bill could have been avoided.

“If they are incorporated from the design stage, sprinklers are around 1% of the total build cost.”

What LFB are calling for:

• The retrofitting of sprinklers in all residential high-rise tower blocks, as part of an appropriate package of fire safety measures

• Sprinklers to be installed in all school new builds and major refurbishments

 

Construction Boss Jailed

A boss of a construction firm has received a 12 month prison sentence following trial at The Old Bailey.

Amanda Telfer was killed when a stack of large unglazed frames collapsed on her as she walked past a building site in Hanover Square, central London. Members of the public rushed to help, but Telfer could not be saved and she was pronounced dead at the scene just before noon on 30 August 2012.

A jury found the supervisor at IS Europe Ltd, Kelvin Adsett, 64, of Slough, Berkshire, guilty of manslaughter and breaching health and safety. It was said on his behalf that his life was destroyed as the result of “an aberration of carelessness”.

Sentencing him to 12 months in prison, Judge Peter Rook QC told him: “Your actions contributed to the wholly needless and untimely death of Amanda Telfer.” The judge said he had shown “reckless disregard” for what was a life-threatening situation.

Westgreen Construction Limited site manager Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, of Cobham, Surrey, was convicted of failing to take reasonable care of safety while at work.   Rook sentenced him to six months’ jail, suspended for two years.

The court had heard how the frames, which together weighed 655kg, had been left leaning against a wall after being delivered the previous day, before the site was ready for their installation.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said it was “obvious to anyone” they carried a “clear and serious risk of death” to anyone walking past.

The frames were seen to move in the wind, prompting concern from the public that they might fall into the busy central London street. Another member of the public had almost been hit in a “near-miss” at the site just days before the fatal accident, the court heard.

Atkinson said: “There were a series of obvious and, in many cases, straightforward steps that could have been taken to avoid that risk – ranging from cancellation, delay, refusal of delivery on the one hand, to the storage, the use of straps and barriers. None were taken by any of the defendants and Amanda Telfer died as a result.”

London Fire Brigade Reminder About Fire Plans and Smoking Risks

London Fire Brigade have issued another warning about smoking risks following a fire in a Lambeth Tower block, while also reminding all residents and those responsible for tower blocks that they must have a fire plan.

Six fire engines and 35 firefighters and officers were called to a fire in a high rise block of flats on Lollard Street in Lambeth on Wednesday evening last week.

The fire damaged a five roomed flat on the 20th floor of the 23 storey block and firefighters led seven people who were being affected by smoke from the fire down an internal staircase to safety. They were treated at the scene by London Ambulance Service and one person was taken to hospital.

Eighty other residents left the block before the Brigade arrived.

Lambeth Crew Manager David Stapley who was at the scene said: “Crews did a really good job and made an early attack on the blaze, ensuring that it was confined to the flat where it started.”

Reminding people of the importance of having a fire plan he added in the event of a fire people living in high rise and purpose built blocks were usually safer staying in their flats unless they were being directly affected by heat or smoke, like the seven residents from the floor above the fire who crews assisted out of the building.

Crew Manager Stapley said: “Living in a flat is not more dangerous than living in a house but it’s important to know that your fire plan should be different.

“If buildings are built and maintained correctly, walls, floors and doors in flats and maisonettes give you protection from fire – a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes – so, if there is a fire elsewhere in the building but not inside your home you’re usually safer staying in your flat unless heat or smoke is affecting you. Stay put and call 999. If you leave your flat you could be rushing into smoke, the fire itself or firefighters using equipment to bring the fire under control in another part of the building.

“If there is a fire inside your flat or maisonette, or you are being directly affected by it, our advice is to leave, close the door behind you and call 999.”

The fire is believed to have been caused after smoking materials accidentally came into contact with a mattress and bedding.

Reminding smokers to take extra care a London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “If you are a smoker you should never smoke in bed. It is also vital that you take extra care and ensure your cigarette is completely out when you’ve finished smoking it. If you don’t, you risk causing a fire which could not only destroy your home, but also cost you your life.”

Two people seriously injured after cigarette starts huge blaze at care home on Saturday night

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has reported that crews worked with staff, police officers and colleagues from West Midlands Ambulance Service to safely evacuate 25 residents from the building. Seven residents suffered smoke inhalation; six were taken to Good Hope Hospital and one to Queens Hospital, Burton.

In all 7 residents had to be admitted to hospital.

A Staffordshire Fire & Rescue officer confirmed the fire had begun in an exterior smoking area of the home.

The Fire and Rescue Service have issued a reminder to take care when disposing of smoking materials.

A spokesperson said “A robust smoking policy should be implemented in conjunction with a fire risk assessment. One of the main considerations when providing a smoking shelter is its location and construction. Good house-keeping arrangements should also be put in place to monitor the disposal of cigarettes in a suitable container.

“Combustible materials of any kind should be kept away from the shelter. This includes materials such as foliage, which could enable the fire to easily spread.

Almost half a million pounds costs and fine for failings which resulted in death of elderly resident

Following our earlier post in relation to the court case brought by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service after the tragic death of Irene Cockerton, the operator of the sheltered housing scheme where she lived has been prosecuted and handed out fines and costs totally almost half a million pounds.

Among the failings found against Firstport were:

·         Omitting to carry out a suitable risk assessment which placed Mrs Cockerton and others in danger of death and serious injury from fire

·         Significant breaches in the integrity of roof space compartmentalisation which increased the spread of the flames

·         Greasy vapours and deposits from kitchens increased the danger of a blaze spreading

·         Failing to put in place a proper evacuation procedure in the event of a fire, particularly in view of the vulnerability of residents.

·         Omitting to act on warnings given earlier by people who had carried out past inspections and allowing the condition of the roof space fire curtains to fall into disrepair

·         Area and house managers not given satisfactory training – a failure which placed one or more persons at risk of death and injury in case of fire.

Sentencing yesterday Judge Stephen Climie slapped Firstport with a £600,000 fine, reduced to £400,000 on account of the company’s admissions and then £360,000 due to mitigating circumstances, including the company’s full co-operation with the investigation.

The Hampshire-based company was also ordered to pay an additional £100,000 court costs, bringing the total financial penalty to £460,000.

Judge Climie praised “the bravery” of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, which brought the case against Firstport.

“The Surrey fire service are to be commended in terms of the way which they dealt with a very rapidly worsening situation,” he said.

Judge Climie also praised Mrs Cockerton’s family for their conduct during the case: “I note the extraordinary dignity with which her family have faced this case,” he said.

 

Fatal Care Home Fire leaves 2 dead, 3 in hospital and 33 needing to be rescued

Tragic news early yesterday morning was that a fire which broke out in a care home in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire has left 2 dead, while 33 had to be rescued from the building.

Despite firefighters launching a “challenging” rescue operation, they were unable to save everyone inside.  In addition to the 2 fatalities 3 more residents needed hospital treatment for minor burns and smoke inhalation, the fire service said.

Chief fire officer for Hertfordshire, Darryl Keen, said the fire “had spread inside the roof all the way along the entire property”.

“That rapidly escalated and the crews worked extremely hard in very difficult circumstances to rescue 33 of the 35 people who were in that property.”

Mr Keen said the outcome could have been even worse had crews not reacted so quickly.

“We had a number of people that were unable to get themselves out, you know, physically would not have been able to move even under normal circumstances,” he said.

“And when you add the difficulties that a fire would create to the situation, it makes it even worse”.

This tragedy comes just days after a court case heard how fire safety breaches in a sheltered housing scheme claimed the life of an elderly resident in a block in Surrey back in 2011.  In that case the housing provider has been successfully prosecuted for inadequate fire precautions, including lack of suitable fire separation in the roof space.

Care home facing massive fine after inadequate fire safety precautions led to fatal blaze

Irene Cockerton, 87, from west London, died in the fire at Gibson Court, Hinchley Wood, in September 2011

Inadequate fire safety precautions led to the death of an 87-year-old widow in her smoke-filled flat after a raging inferno engulfed the roof of a block of retirement apartments

The blaze, which claimed the life of Irene Cockerton from west London, swept through the loft of Gibson Court in a matter of minutes because there were no compartmental walls to check its progress

The fire was accelerated by a build-up of cooking grease caused by the kitchen vents of the flats, which opened into the roof space instead of through outside walls, the court was told.

Poor staff training in emergency exit procedures also put the lives of Mrs Cockerton’s 22 fellow residents and their fire-fighting rescuers in peril, the hearing heard.

The four-count indictment admitted by Firstport covered a host of failings by the Hampshire-based company, including:

  • Omitting to carry out a suitable risk assessment which placed Mrs Cockerton and others in danger of death and serious injury from fire
  • Significant breaches in the integrity of roof space compartmentalisation which increased the spread of the flames
  • Greasy vapours and deposits from kitchens increased the danger of a blaze spreading
  • Failing to put in place a proper evacuation procedure in the event of a fire, particularly in view of the vulnerability of residents.
  • Omitting to act on warnings given earlier by people who had carried out past inspections and allowing the condition of the roof space fire curtains to fall into disrepair
  • Area and house managers not given satisfactory training – a failure which placed one or more persons at risk of death and injury in case of fire.

Lawyer’s death was preventable – 4 on trial

The trial of 4 people and 3 companies commenced in February at The Old Bailey after the tragic death of a young lawyer back in 2012.

Amanda Telfer, 43, was killed when window frames due to be installed in a building in Hanover Square fell onto her as she walked past the building.  The window frames had been left stacked up against a wall the previous day, unsecured, unrestrained and weighing a total of half a tonne.

Four people and three companies deny a total of 13 charges over her death.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said builders were not ready to install the frames but that they were delivered anyway.

He said it was “obvious to anyone” that the heavy frames, which together weighed 1,444lb (655kg), carried a “clear and serious risk of death”, including to those walking past.

Mr Atkinson told the court: “There were a series of obvious and, in many cases, straightforward steps that could have been taken to avoid that risk, ranging from cancellation, delay, refusal of delivery on the one hand, to the storage, the use of straps and barriers.

“None were taken by any of the defendants and Amanda Telfer died as a result.”

The jury at the Old Bailey was told how another member of the public had almost been hit in a “near-miss” at the site just days before the fatal accident.

Work was “routinely carried out” on the pavement and equipment was stored there overnight, but there was no external barrier to separate the working area from the public, Mr Atkinson said.

“In the days before the accident, a plywood hoarding had fallen from one of the apertures on the building, almost hitting a member of the public as he made his way home.”

Mr Atkinson said the alleged incident raised questions over health and safety at the site.

Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, from Cobham, Surrey, Claire Gordon, 36, from Leeds, and 64-year-old Kelvin Adsett – also known as Kelvin Schultz – from, Slough, Berkshire, deny manslaughter and health and safety breaches.

Steven Rogers, 62, from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of failure to take reasonable care for safety while at work as an employee of Westgreen Construction.

IS Europe of Slough, Westgreen Construction, of Richmond in Surrey, and Drawn Metal of Leeds, also deny health and safety charges.

Estate agents fined after househunter falls 30ft down a well during property viewing

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard how, during an open house viewing a prospective buyer stepped onto a wooden board which was covering a well.  The board gave way and she fell 30ft down the well, where she became submerged by water. A hosepipe was thrown to the woman and she managed to secure it around her waist it was another hour before she was recused from the well. The incident left the victim with head injuries, including concussion but also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The incident occurred while the estate agents were holding an open house viewing at a property.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the estate agents had been warned about the well and the board that was covering it did not look safe. The company did not properly investigate if there was a risk of people falling down the well when they were viewing the property. It was heard that a Strakers’ employee had visited the house, and assumed that the wooden board would have a metal grill underneath it. He did not however lift the board to check.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Matthew Tyler said: “This incident could have easily become a fatal tragedy. If, when warned, of the unsafe well the company had properly checked to see if it was secure the trauma this individual has gone through could have been prevented.

“Employers must check the risks associated with their work to protect their workers and members of the public they have contact with. Once they have identified any risks they can take practical steps to control them.”