Tower block fire – inquest announced

An inquest into the 2009 residential tower block fire at Lakanal House, Sceaux Gardens Estate,  London which resulted in six fatalities is taking place at Lambeth Town Hall and is led by Assistant Deputy Coroner Frances Kirkham.

The circumstances relating to the outbreak of the fire remain unclear, with initial reports stating that a faulty television set was to blame.  The Metropolitan Police, along with the London Fire Brigade,  have been investigating but have not yet released full details.  It appear unlikely at this stage that Southwark Council, the local authority which owned and managed the tower block will face prosecution.  This is despite apparent shortcomings in fire protection and safety which contributed to the rapid spread of flames and smoke between different floor of the block.

Although designed and built in 1959, the block of flats was considered a relatively safe design with architects and town planners estimating that under normal circumstances residents on should have about an hour of protection before the fire spread from another floor.  In the event the fire spread much more quickly than anticipated, this seems to have contributed to the number of fatalities and made the task the fire brigade faced upon arrival much more difficult.  Southwark Council have denied that replacement PVC windows were to blame.

Do you live or work in a tower block ?  Here are some simple fire safety tips :
1. electrical appliance tests – get your electrical items check properly by a competent person, if you are not able to do this your self call somebody in.
2. fire alarms – at home or work make sure you have got some way of knowing that a fire has broken out.  Your local fire brigade might supply or fit a free home smoke alarm.
3. escape routes – walk through all your planned escape routes so that you know just where to go in an emergency.


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