Category Archives: Breaking News

London Fire Brigade makes fire safety plea 100 days on from Grenfell Tower tragedy

One hundred days on from the Grenfell Tower disaster and London’s fire chiefs are using the anniversary to remind landlords and residents about their high rise fire safety responsibilities.
The cause and spread of the Grenfell fire, as well as the response to it, are the subject of an ongoing police investigation and public inquiry but the Brigade says there are key actions housing providers, landlords and residents of high-rise residential buildings can take to help prevent fires from occurring in the first place and to reduce the

Landlords, such as local authorities and housing associations, or building owners are responsible for maintaining up to date fire risk assessments for their buildings. These should identify any risks and hazards, which should be put right, as well as the general fire precautions required for the property.

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly said:
“One hundred days ago we saw the worst residential fire this country has ever seen. It is understandable people living in tower blocks have raised questions about their safety after such an horrific blaze but although this was an incident on an unprecedented scale, thankfully fires are rare.

“The building owner or landlord is responsible for making sure the building remains safe and this includes everything from ensuring fire doors are properly fitted to keeping escape routes free from clutter such as bikes and push chairs. They must also keep residents informed of what they need to do in the event of a fire.

“Having an up to date and detailed fire risk assessment is the single most helpful thing building owners and landlords can do to improve the safety of their residents and it is a legal requirement.“

Top five safety tips for high rise residents

Fire safety in purpose built flats and maisonettes is dependent on good maintenance and housekeeping and residents also have responsibility to play in supporting that by following this simple fire safety advice

• Make sure fire doors to the front of flats and onto corridors and staircases are kept closed and not left held or wedged open as they are designed to stop the spread of fire. All fire doors should also be fitted with a working, self closing mechanism.

• Don’t store things in corridors or on staircases as this can block escape routes and stop firefighters doing their job.

• Install smoke alarms and test  them regularly. As a minimum you should have smoke alarms on each floor if you live in a maisonette – in the hallways and the rooms you use the most, plus a heat alarm in the kitchen.

• Be fire safety savvy – extinguish cigarettes properly if you are a smoker and don’t leave candles or cooking unattended

• Make sure you have a fire plan and that everyone in your home knows what to do in an emergency. If you are not sure what the fire plan is for your building contact your landlord or the building owner.

More than 100 firefighters tackle blaze in Kent

Fire broke out early this morning and 15 fire engines were at the scene at the peak of the blaze. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

The building was evacuated and there were no reports of anyone being injured.

A community briefing centre was set up for the residents of the 22 flats in the block in Lambe Close, Manley Boulevard, the fire service said.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “Crews are likely to remain on the scene for some time.

“It is believed that everyone has been accounted for and a rest centre has been put in place for residents.”

 

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

 

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.

Southwark Council Pleads Guilty following fatal Lakanal House Blaze

Southwark Council expressed its “sincere regret” as it pleaded guilty to four charges relating to a tower block fire which killed six people.

Three women and three young children were killed in the 2009 blaze at Lakanal House in Camberwell, Southwark Crown Court heard.

The fire started due an electrical fault with a television.

Southwark Council pleaded guilty to charges relating to safety breaches and must pay £300,000 costs.

The council will be sentenced on Tuesday, where it is expected to be fined.

The charges, dating from 1 October 2006 to 3 July 2009, include a failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, failure to take general fire precautions – including in relation to safety of employees – and a failure to ensure that premises were subject to a suitable system of maintenance.

Following the hearing, councillor Stephanie Cryan, Southwark’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We took the decision to plead guilty to all four counts of breach of fire safety regulations associated with the Lakanal building on the July 2 2009, the day before the fire.

“This is because, as an authority, we fully accept responsibility for the fire safety of all our council homes. The fact remains that the council did not have a Fire Risk Assessment for Lakanal in place on this date. Without this record, we can never categorically decide on the fire safety of the building before the fire happened.

This tragic fire and the deaths of six people in 2009, have meant that the council has had to reflect hard on the mistakes of the past.  Since then, we have spent £62m on our fire risk assessment programme and associated fire safety works for all of our council housing in the borough. We have worked closely with London Fire Brigade and meet regularly with them, informing them of progress on the risk profile of the borough and agreeing with them the strategy and actions we are taking to ensure fire safety remains a high priority for the council.”

An inquest into the six victim’s death was held in 2013, which returned narrative, highlighting “numerous missed opportunities” to carry out fire safety checks inside the building.

Camberwell and Peckham MP, Harriet Harman gave a statement that also put blame on the London Fire Brigade.

She said: “No-one would have died if the Fire Brigade had instructed people to leave their flats. The Fire Brigade, too, were responsible because as the fire spread and the safety measures failed, they failed to change their instructions to residents.

“Those who ignored the Fire Brigade’s instructions to stay put escaped with their lives. Those who accepted the instructions to stay in their flat died.  The Fire Brigade say they too have learned lessons.

“This prosecution sends a strong message not just to the London Borough of Southwark but to all landlords, public and private, that their tenants’ safety must be an absolute priority”.

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly said: “It is important to say that this prosecution is not focused on the fire that happened on 3 July 2009 or on the tragic loss of life following the fire but on the risk of death and serious injury from fire that existed at Lakanal between 2006 and July 2009.

“Millions of people in London live in purpose built blocks of flats. Our advice remains the same, that 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 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 choking 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, closing the door behind you and call 999.”

No working smoke alarms in vast majority of 2017 fatal fires

London Fire Brigade have confirmed that in 2017, the majority of fatal fires have occurred in homes with no working smoke alarms.

Five of the seven fatal fires since the turn of the year had no working smoke alarms fitted in their homes, London Fire Brigade announced today.

The information is being released in an unprecedented move ahead of the inquests in a bid to avoid further lives being lost. The Brigade says it is deeply concerned that lack of smoke detection in homes is putting Londoners at risk.

Since the beginning of 2017 sadly ten people have died in fires across the capital.

In all but one of these cases, the Brigade was only called when a neighbour noticed the fire. In the other instance the smoke alarm operated and was linked to an outstation via a telecare provider who summoned the Fire Brigade.

Whirlpool finally admit 5.3 million faulty tumble dryers should be unplugged and not used

For months Whirlpool have suggested that despite concerns raised after a number of serious fires, their tumble dryers were safe to use.

Finally after action by London Fire Brigade and Peterborough Trading Standards Whirlpool have updated the advice on their own website.

London Fire Brigade warned in October 2016 that owners of the faulty dryers must stop using them immediately, after one of the machines was found to be the cause of a huge blaze in an 18-storey tower block in Shepherd’s Bush in London.

Various dryers made by Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda between April 2004 and September 2015 are subject to a safety notice about the fire risk, which is caused by excess fluff coming into contact with the heating element.

The advice is now clear ‘If your tumble dryer is affected by this issue then you should unplug it and do not use it until the modification has taken place.

 

Thousands with faulty smoke alarm batteries

It has been widely reported in the news media that smoke alarm manufacturer Sprue Aegis has admitted many of the devices it has supplied have faulty batteries, leading to early battery failure.

Sprue Aegis, whose products are sold by High Street giants including Tesco and B&Q, yesterday revealed that batteries fitted to some of its smoke alarms were faulty.
Smoke alarm

Sprue Aegis makes a range of home safety devices such as smoke and heat alarms and carbon monoxide detectors under brands including First Alert, FireAngel, AngelEye and Sona.

In an unexpected statement to the stock market yesterday, the company said a fault in batteries provided by one of its suppliers ‘may cause a premature low battering warning chirp’ in some of the smoke alarms it sells in the UK and in Europe.

The company refused to say how many smoke alarms have been affected but sources said it was ‘a very small number’.

The company insisted the smoke alarms still worked, adding: ‘This is not a safety critical issue.’

Some fire and rescue services have fitted Sprue Aegis smoke alarms as part of their home fire safety visits.  Anyone concerned about their smoke alarms is advised to carry out the routine test, following the manufacturers instructions.  Fire and Rescue Services will continue to carry out home fire safety visits and advise on siting and type of alarms that should be fitted.

 

 

People leap from windows to escape. do you know your buildings fire plan

BBC News channel is reporting dramatic escape of people from 1st and 2nd floor windows.   This demonstrates how important it is that you know the plan for your building if there were to be a fire.  Ask your landlord for details of the building’s evacuation plan.

People flung themselves out of first and second floor windows in the dark and climbed down a drainpipe to escape a large fire in south London.

Fire started in a three-storey terraced property converted into flats in Northlands Street, close to King’s College Hospital, at about 04:30 GMT.

Two men jumped from the second floor and suffered pelvic, spinal and leg injuries. Another man climbed down a drain pipe from the second floor.

The fire is reported to have taken four hours to extinguish.

Two men and a woman suffered cuts from climbing out of a first floor window and another man escaped from the first floor with burns to his hands and feet, London Fire Brigade said.

Twenty eight people were evacuated from neighbouring buildings as a precaution.