Category Archives: Fire Safety

Firefighters rescue 12 cats and 6 dogs after fire at Animal Hospital

LFB have reported that firefighters rescued 12 cats and 6 dogs after fire at the RSPCA Putney Animal Hospital, Clarendon Drive in Putney on Monday.

The fire started inside a tumble dryer in a laundry room and the Brigade’s fire investigators believe the blaze was caused by towels with oils on them self heating.

A small part of the laundry room was damaged by fire and the remainder of the hospital was unaffected by the blaze.
Crews wearing breathing apparatus rescued 12 cats and 6 dogs from the animal hospital and they were all checked over by an on-site vet.

Approximately 10 members of staff left the property before the arrival of the Brigade. Thankfully none of the animals or staff members were injured.

Caroline Allen, London Veterinary Director for the RSPCA, said: “We are so grateful for the swift response of the London Fire Brigade in responding to our call after a small fire started in a tumble drier in our laundry room.

“Thanks to the quick action of our staff and the action of the LFB, the fire was contained and all the staff and animals were kept safe. The fire crew were so kind and helped us ensure the animals were safe and once the fire was out assisted in moving some who could have been affected by smoke.

“Most of the patients in with us are animals who have been rescued by our Inspectorate and are undergoing treatment for a variety of injuries and illnesses, so they really were down on their luck before they were brought into us. We are so glad they are safe and once their treatment is complete they will go on to be rehomed. We are happy to report that the hospital is operating as normal today.”

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

 

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.

Suspended jail sentence for fire risk assessor

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) is advising Fire Risk Assessors from across the South Wales area to take due diligence of their legal obligations when undertaking fire risk assessments on behalf of organisations.

A Fire Risk Assessor from Barry pleaded guilty to 13 separate charges relating to failures in carrying out suitable and sufficient fire risk assessments. The fire risk assessment failed to identify serious fire safety deficiencies in a number of St David’s Hospice Care premises.

As a result of two devastating fires at St. David’s Hospice’s retail outlets in Pontypool and Newbridge, an investigation was undertaken by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Subsequently, Business Fire Safety Officers visited over 30 of their premises which identified serious failings with the fire risk assessments that had been undertaken.

Steve Rossiter, Head of Business Fire Safety for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said, “The court has today sent a strong message to would-be fire risk assessors, that there is a clear expectation that as an assessor, you must be competent at carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment. This means having a good understanding of fire safety requirements, both technically and practically. Suitable and sufficient fire risk assessments are at the heart of ensuring safe buildings and as such holds significant responsibilities.

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.”