Last updated: 26/07/2022, 11:13 AM

Firefighters’ heroic actions prevented fatalities on Brigade’s busiest day since World War II

20/07/2022 12:30
  • Unprecedented weather meant firefighters dealt with more than 1,146 incidents and Brigade Control took 2,670 calls
  • Action taken by firefighters meant there were no fatalities yesterday
  • Borough Commanders and crews will be out in communities offering people support today
  • Additional resources in place today as forecast rain on dry land could lead to surface flooding

London Fire Brigade had its busiest day since World War II yesterday as record temperatures led to hundreds of fires across the city.

The scale and frequency of the fires caused the Brigade to declare a major incident yesterday afternoon to allow for resources to be focused. There were more than 1,146 incidents throughout London yesterday, and thanks to the heroic work of firefighters, there were no fatalities.

More than 40 houses and shops were destroyed after a number of significant grass fires spread to nearby buildings, including in Wennington, Dagenham and Kenton. Crews worked tirelessly to tackle fires which also engulfed garages, farm buildings, vehicles, outbuildings, a car wash and a church hall. A total of 16 firefighters suffered heat-related injuries, and two of them were taken to hospital.

Control Officers also worked relentlessly throughout the day, taking 2,670 calls between 0800 yesterday and around 0630 this morning. The Fire Investigation team was also exceptionally busy, mobilising to fires around London. Efforts will continue in the coming days to attend scenes and determine causes where possible.

In the aftermath of the fires, Borough Commanders and their stations will be engaging with people in communities affected by the fires to offer our ongoing support. The Brigade declared the major incident over this morning.

The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner, Jonathan Smith, said: “Firefighters across London worked in very difficult conditions to protect Londoners and their heroic actions mean no lives were lost. I am immensely proud of them and their dedication in such unprecedented heat.

“We declared a major incident and worked with emergency service partners who have also been working hard to continue to run services in these difficult and challenging conditions. By taking action, we were able to focus and prioritise our resources, recall staff from training, call on support from other local fire and rescue services and attend every incident as needed.

“Yesterday’s fires are another example of how we are increasingly being challenged by new extremes of weather as our climate changes and we’re developing long-term strategies to deal with more incidents like this in the future.”

Firefighters remain ready to respond to incidents throughout today and the Brigade is continuing to monitor the weather conditions and the forecast for the coming days, with additional resource in place today.

It is likely to be another warm day, with a yellow weather warning in place from the Met Office of storms and thunderstorms for London. After a month with little rain, much of the land in the capital is dry which means that heavy rain could lead to surface water flooding.

Assistant Commissioner Smith added: “Despite some rain in parts of London overnight, the ground is still likely to be dry, so as well as fires there is also a risk of surface water flooding.

“If you are at risk of flooding, you can take action now to prepare. Please continue to pay attention to weather alerts and prepare a flood kit or grab bag.”

Last month, the Brigade worked with the Greater London Authority, and other partners, to support a campaign to provide people living in basement properties with advice about what to do before, during and after a flood, including a leaflet to those people.


Additional information

The largest amount of resource for one incident was at a huge grass fire in Upminster, where around15 hectares of a cornfield and scrubland were alight. At the height of the incident, 30 fire engines and almost 200 firefighters were in attendance.

The large blaze in Wennington destroyed six properties and a number of farm buildings and vehicles. In Dagenham, a range of houses and 25 vehicles were destroyed and a blaze in Kenton destroyed a disused church hall and car wash, two semi-detached houses and nine vehicles.

Advice - preparing for possible flooding:

  • Please continue to pay attention to weather alerts and prepare a flood kit or grab bag.
  • It’s important to always put people before belongings, but, if possible, you can also use sandbags to limit water flow and move belongings to a higher level.
  • Make sure you also look out for your neighbours, especially if they are vulnerable.
  • If you live in a basement property, be prepared to take action sooner to protect yourself and your belongings from flooding. In advance, check you have the right insurance to cover you in a flood.

You may also be interested in...