Fire chiefs say that if it wasn’t for the flat’s sprinkler system this fire could have had a very different outcome and following the incident they are now renewing their call for sprinklers to be mandatory in all care homes and sheltered accommodation.
The fire started in the kitchen of the elderly man’s flat in Truscott House, Stanley Grove, but thankfully, sprinklers put the fire out before choking smoke reached the bedroom where he was sleeping. The sprinklers also set off the fire alarm and staff were able to safely evacuate the man from his home and he escaped uninjured.
With a high number of vulnerable residents, the 40-unit block had been identified the previous year by the local Norbury fire station and the Brigade’s fire safety team as being somewhere that would see real fire safety benefits if sprinklers were installed.
Councillor Alison Butler, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for homes, regeneration & planning, said: “We invested in these sprinklers to better protect some of our most vulnerable residents, so I am relieved that they did their job and that no-one was hurt in this fire.”
After discussions between the Brigade and the London Borough of Croydon, the council decided to fit sprinklers in the building and five more of its extra care blocks
Following the fire, which took place at around 4pm on Monday, 14 September, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Neil Orbell said: "This close call just goes to show how vital sprinklers are in care homes and sheltered accommodation – they not only stop fires from spreading, they save lives.
"People living in sheltered accommodation and extra care facilities are often very vulnerable to fire. They may have limited mobility or a disability which makes it difficult for them to notice a fire and react quickly.
"In London alone there are more than ten fires a week in housing where care is provided. We firmly believe that installing sprinklers in buildings like Truscott House, which house some of London’s most vulnerable residents, will help further reduce the number of fire related deaths and injuries in the capital.
"Croydon Council should be commended for not only installing sprinklers at the block identified by our firefighters and fire safety officers but also for going the extra mile and fitting them in five other similar blocks. This is setting a great example and one which we hope other housing providers will follow."
Two fire engines and ten firefighters from Norbury and Croydon fire stations attended the incident but the fire was already out when they arrived.