London Fire Brigade

Brigade stages tower block exercise in Barking

14 November 2013

London Fire Brigade is staging a training exercise in a Barking tower block to further improve its emergency response to fires in residential high rise buildings.

Twelve fire engines, around  80 firefighters and officers, as well as the Brigade’s 999 Control staff, will respond to a mock fire which has broken out on the 9th floor of the block. Synthetic smoke will be used to simulate fire conditions and actors will play the parts of injured residents who require rescuing from the blaze.

The multi-agency exercise, which is being held in partnership with Barking and Dagenham Council,  and the local Borough Resilience Forum  will take place in a 17  storey block of flats on the Gascoigne Estate on Thursday (14 November). The Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service will also be taking part. 

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:

“This is one of a number of large scale training exercises that we carry out each year. Thursday’s exercise in Barking is a chance for the Brigade to practise its response to high rise emergencies and the tower block, acting casualties and simulated fire conditions provide us with a unique opportunity to test that response  in a realistic environment.”

In recent years the Brigade has put in place a number of improvements to its high rise response. These include improving the information available to firefighters on the location and lay-out of  residential high rise buildings and ensuring fire crews have a clear understanding of the survival guidance given by 999 Control Officers to people trapped inside buildings before they arrive on the scene.

Cllr Mick McCarthy, Cabinet Member for Housing, Barking and Dagenham Council, added:

“We were delighted to be able to assist the London Fire Brigade by providing Lexham House as the venue for this important training exercise. It is also a valuable exercise from the council’s point of view because it’s an opportunity for us to test our procedures for handling emergencies. I’d like to thank the residents of the Gascoigne Estate for accommodating the Fire Brigade during this exercise.”

The Brigade has also established a new fire safety forum for organisations who have a responsibility for or interest in residential high rise buildings including key private and public sector partners such as London Councils, London boroughs, housing associations and care providers. This will enable the Brigade to build on the work it has already done to clarify and reinforce fire safety messages for people living in high rise premises.

Notes to editors:

• *The Brigade attended  786 high rise fires in 2011/2012
• In July 2009 the Brigade attended a fire at Lakanal House -  a residential tower block in Southwark - where six people  lost their lives.
• Since the Lakanal tower block fire in 2009  the Brigade has introduced a range of new initiatives, policies and equipment to improve our planning and response to incidents involving residential high rise buildings.