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16-11-19

NFCC response to Bolton fire incident

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has praised Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service for its swift and professional response to a fire at student accommodation in Bolton last night (Friday 15th November). 

At its height there were 40 appliances and more than 200 firefighters at the incident. Assistance was given by neighbouring services including Cheshire and Lancashire.

Chair of the NFCC Roy Wilsher, commented:

 I would like to thank all firefighters, officers and control staff who worked tirelessly throughout the night with other emergency services to control the fire and evacuate and rescue people from the building to ensure their safety.

"This large and challenging incident once again highlights how changes to building regulations need to be moved on at a much quicker pace and active and passive fire safety measures are maintained to the required current standard.

I have highlighted this time and time again and raised concerns how progress has been woefully slow. I have already been in contact with Government officials to ensure we discuss this incident as a matter of urgency.

“We have been warning government since the Grenfell Tower fire that urgent action must be taken to protect lives. It is a national outrage that more than 200 buildings still have ACM cladding on them. At this stage we do not know what cladding was on this building, but this will be looked at as part of the investigation along with the whole building structure.

"I recently wrote to government stating that if buildings are not designed, constructed and maintained in a safe condition, fire and rescue services cannot accurately predict the development or lessen the impact of a fire in circumstances similar to those at the Grenfell Tower fire. This leads to the very real risk of another incident involving a similarly large loss of life.

Mr Wilsher added that he had asked government to fund full and proper research into the stay put system and how to change to mass evacuation in the event of a failure of the building in a fire.

We must also continue to consider the ability of fire services to respond to such large scale incidents. The Government is currently consulting on sprinklers and our response will demand that the fitting of sprinklers in this and other types of high-risk buildings becomes mandatory, and in many cases is applied retrospectively

"The safety of buildings is the most fundamental element in ensuring the safety of residents. It is imperative that those with a responsibility for the design, construction and maintenance of buildings do not assume that fire and rescue services are able to provide a safety net, whenever those responsibilities are not met. 

"Though the safety of buildings is the responsibility of building developers, owners and managers, we stress that government has the central responsibility for the safety of its citizens and has to take action when these obligations are not being fulfilled." 

 

 

 

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