Tower block fireLondon Fire Brigade has joined forces with housing providers in nine London boroughs as part of its on-going drive to improve its emergency response to fires in the capital’s high rise buildings.

The six month pilot will run in Tower Hamlets, Camden, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Southwark, Lewisham, Croydon, Hackney and Hounslow.

The trial will see 150 ‘premises information plates’ fixed to the outside of residential high rise tower blocks. The plates will contain essential information about the building and are designed to assist firefighters when they first arrive at the scene when a fire has broken out.

Information will include the number of floors and height of the building, the number and location of staircases, the position of fire hydrants and the number and location of dry risers which connect hoses to the water supply.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:: “The premises information plates will help our crews to more quickly identify crucial information about the building they’ve been called to and in turn this will help them bring fires under control more quickly. Less fire damage will reduce the impact that an incident has on residents and local communities, as well as the cost of damage repairs for housing providers.

“The scheme also provides us with a valuable opportunity to work with local authorities and other housing providers to help them better understand the challenges that we face when we deal with fires in high rise buildings.”

The boroughs taking part in the trial were all chosen because of the number of high rise premises that they have and because each of these local authorities have asked to take part.

The introduction of premises information plates is just one example of a number of improvements that London Fire Brigade has put in place in recent years to improve its response to emergencies in residential high rise blocks.

Other improvements include:

• The introduction of a dedicated Incident Command Unit at  the scene of all residential high rise building fires to improve communication between 999 Control Officers giving  ‘fire survival guidance’ to people who may be trapped and firefighters at the incident;
• The introduction of computers containing important  information about high rise and other buildings on all fire engines;
• New guidance and training for control officers dealing with fire survival guidance phone calls;
• Training for all firefighters to improve their awareness of  how Brigade Control officers give fire survival guidance to people who may be trapped when fires break out;
• Guidance for fire crews on what information should be noted and recorded when they carry out familiarisation visits and home fire safety visits in their local areas.
The premises information plates will be rolled out over the next two months.