A training exercise at a high-rise building in Norwich was the latest piece of work carried out across Norfolk in response to the Grenfell Tower inquiry.
Following the tragic fire in June 2017, the subsequent and ongoing inquiry has produced many recommendations for fire and rescue services and other agencies.
As part of the work in Norfolk, the county’s fire and rescue service has been working hard to learn from the inquiry and implement recommendations to improve both response to fires in tall buildings and engagement with residents and building owners to help prevent incidents from occurring.
The project received Government support of £74,000, which allowed the service to directly employ a member of staff to lead the changes and to purchase equipment to support new procedures.
‘We are all very aware of how quickly a situation can change and much has been learned during the Grenfell Tower inquiry, which shapes how services now interact with communities and how they would respond if high-rise fires occur. We are fortunate to have been able to put our learning into regular practice with such training exercises and to have received the great support we have from our communities. Working together really can save lives,’ said Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council.
Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service has been:
- Working closely with local authorities, social housing providers and building management companies to engage with their residents to help them stay safe in their flats.
- Supporting those responsible for tall buildings to understand the changing legislation and fire-safety guidance to help them keep their buildings safe.
- Purchasing specialist equipment and developing new systems to help manage an evacuation – although the hope is that the work the Service has done means they should never need to do that.
Finally, the Service has introduced new procedures for dealing with incidents in tall buildings, from a small fire to a full evacuation, which will help crews save lives and put out fires more effectively and safely.
These procedures have been tested during a number of training exercises in recent months, the more recent being at Pablo Fanque House in All Saints Green, Norwich, on 30 March.
Chief Fire Officer Tim Edwards said: ‘All of our crews have received training in these new procedures and this exercise was the culmination of that training for the crews that work around Norwich, where the majority of our tall buildings are located.’
Norfolk has more than 50* tall buildings and around 150 mid-rise blocks. Immediately following the Grenfell fire, the service thoroughly inspected all of the high-risk blocks to ensure correct safety precautions and procedures were in place.
*The Government redefined tall buildings following the Grenfell Tower incident, meaning all buildings of 18m or seven storeys are classed as tall buildings. Any building between 11m and 18m tall (or 4–6 storeys) is classed as a mid-rise block.