Your shopping cart is empty!
A fire at the New Providence Wharf tower block on the 7th of May this year could have been a disaster. Not only does the building have the same cladding as Grenfell Tower, the balconies are made of wood and the ventilation system was faulty, leading to a broken chimney-like effect as the fire climbed up balconies from the 8th to 11th floor, and smoke poured through the central stairwell from a flat door which was left propped open. A perfect storm of circumstance, faulty systems and a lack of appropriate equipment at nearby fire stations led to this event, but it could have been a lot worse.
There are no tall aerial ladders in the east end, specifically in the Isle of Dogs, where many of London's skyscrapers stand, an oversight which meant one had to be brought in from Old Kent Road to tackle the blaze. The ladder from Old Kent Road was only capable of reaching 90 feet, which was luckily tall enough for the job at hand although it took 20 minutes to reach the blaze. This response time is significantly higher than the sub-9 minute average response time for 2018/2019. Happily, only two people needed hospital treatment for smoke inhalation while 33 others were rescued without needed further medical attention. The fire brigade was able to extinguish the fire before it spread any further, but had there been a taller aerial ladder in close proximity to the tower this could have been achieved much more quickly.
Councillor Rabina Khan (LD) was quick to call for investment in a 200 foot (60 metres) aerial ladder and rescue platform that will be based in Millwall fire station. A ladder of this scale costs £1 million, so raising the cash will be no short order. Ahead of a meeting in July, Mayor John Briggs investigated the possibility of using developers’ levies to fund the purchase of the equipment, which will benefit the entire east end area.
This motion was backed at the meeting and developer funds will be used to pay towards the new aerial ladder and rescue platform at Millwall. The London Fire Brigade had already planned to purchase three new 64 metres extension platform ladders, but none of these were set to be stationed in the east end. This fourth rescue ladder, based where it is needed most (in an area where over 900 tower blocks are located) will be an extra purchase funded by Tower Hamlets council, using developer levies, and talks with the London Fire Brigade are under way. In a move which will hopefully make residents at New Providence Wharf feel safer, the cladding used on the Grenfell Tower is being removed and replaced.
On a lighter note, trainees at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have used their ladder training for good by raising money for The Fire Fighters Charity. This organisation uses funds to help fire fighters in times of injury or sickness, paying towards rehabilitation after injuries and/or surgery, paying for counselling for those affected by the trauma of their work and helping support the families of those affected.
The team of new recruits had aimed to climb the height of Everest twice during a gruelling 15-hour climb, but ended up actually climbing the equivalent height three times! That's a whopping 26,547 metres and it's a good job they were climbing ladders and not the actual mountain, otherwise they'd have gone to the top, back down and then back up again – they're not the Grand Old Duke of York's fire brigade after all!
As some of the most skilled ladder users we can think of, we're proud of these firefighters for their amazing achievement, and glad that the London brigade is getting a much needed investment in equipment.