Information plates speed up tackling fires in London tower blocks

Last summer's blast damage at Donnington Point

Last summer's blast damage at Donnington Point - Credit: Archant

Safety measures are under way at tower blocks on housing estates across London to help firefighters tackle emergencies by putting up information plates outside the buildings.

Last summer's blast damage at Donnington Point

Last summer's blast damage at Donnington Point - Credit: Archant

It follows incidents such as last summer’s canister gas explosion in the East End which rocked the 12-storey Donnington Point on the Bow Bridge Estate in Bromley-by-Bow.

Last summer's blast damage at Donnington Point

Last summer's blast damage at Donnington Point - Credit: Archant

The plates contain details of the buildings to help emergency teams when they first arrive at the scene to save vital minutes—such as the number of floors and height of the building, number and location of staircases, position of hydrants and location of dry risers to connect hoses to the water supply.

“The information plates will help identify crucial information more quickly,” explained the Fire Brigade’s Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Bruce Epsly.

“This will bring fires under control more quickly, while reduced fire damage will lessen the impact on the community.”


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The scheme has been drawn up with Tower Hamlets Homes and organisations such as Poplar Housing Action and Regeneration which manage most of the East End’s former council housing estates.

Tower Hamlets is one of nine London boroughs, including neighbouring Hackney, where the six-month pilot scheme is being tested, because of the number of high rise buildings. The others are Camden, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Southwark, Lewisham, Croydon and Hounslow.

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Three people were rescued and 200 more evacuated after the explosion at Dorrington Point on the fifth floor in July. The explosion shattered windows, smashed doors and led to a blaze so hot that it melted copper cables and caused a power cut.

Crews from Bow, Poplar and Stratford fire-stations arrived within minutes, but had to assess where hydrants were before tackling the blaze wearing breathing apparatus, fighting their way through the acrid smoke.

The information plates would save vital seconds and minutes, the Fire Brigade believes.

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