'We need taller ladder for fire rescue,' Tower Hamlets councillor urges

Platform ladder used to reach blaze at New Providence Wharf on May 7

Platform ladder used to reach blaze at New Providence Wharf on May 7 - Credit: Nick Larkin

A rescue platform ladder that can reach 200ft for skyscraper emergencies is needed following the New Providence Wharf blaze. 

That is the message Cllr Rabina Khan is making at Tower Hamlets Council because the London Fire Brigade has no turntable ladders based in the East End — one has to be brought in from outside if a fire breaks out. 

This has raised concerns about the Isle of Dogs, which is densely populated per square mile and has some of Britain’s tallest residential skyscrapers. 

Cllr Rabina Khan... calling for rescue platform ladder to be based in the East End

Cllr Rabina Khan... calling for rescue platform ladder to be based in the East End - Credit: Mike Brooke

“We need to give the fir brigade every possible facility to tackle any fire in a tower block,” Cllr Khan told the East London Advertiser.   

“Fires can start at any time, as the recent New Providence Wharf incident shows. Our high-rise community requires a turntable ladder that can reach them.” 

Platform rescue ladder ready to be raised at New Providence Wharf fire on May 7

Platform rescue ladder ready to be raised at New Providence Wharf fire on May 7 - Credit: Nick Larkin

But it would cost £1million, and the council is being asked to raise the money partly from levies on new developments.

The fire brigade is due to bring three new rescue platforms that can reach 200ft into service later this year.  


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The nearest is being stationed at Old Kent Road six miles away, south of the river, and another at Dagenham eight miles east along the A13. The third is going to Wimbledon. 

It would take around 20 minutes for the Dagenham or the Old Kent Road crews to reach the Isle of Dogs — although they would not be the first to arrive at the scene, it is pointed out. 

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Cllr Khan added: “People need to be able to go to bed at night knowing they won’t be waiting at least 20 minutes for that important fire safety equipment to arrive if fire breaks out.” 

Vital minutes before rescue platform had time to arrive at New Providence Wharf.

Vital minutes before rescue platform had time to arrive at New Providence Wharf. - Credit: Nick Larkin

Councillors met the fire brigade’s Tower Hamlets commander last month to discuss lessons learnt from the New Providence Wharf incident on May 7. 

Tower Hamlets does not have a turntable rescue platform, they learned. 

The fire brigade has 15 turntable ladders currently in service, but only reaching 90ft (32m). 

A fire brigade spokesman told the Advertiser: “The aerial rescue platforms on average manage to get to high rise incidents in 20 minutes. The response from first fire engines, however, is an average of six minutes, usually only five in east London.

“We are replacing our fleet of rescue platforms after the Grenfell Tower disaster of 2017. Three new 64m ladders come into service in the autumn — the tallest ladders in Europe.” 

The brigade bought one of the ladders for £1million. The other two were paid for by London Freemasons, who raised £2m.  

Millwall fire station... where rescue platform ladder could be based

Millwall fire station... where rescue platform ladder could be based - Credit: Google

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