Hampshire firefighters get new training and equipment amid Grenfell Tower inquiry

NEW equipment, faster evacuations and better communication will all help firefighters prevent another Grenfell-style disaster, according to a new report.

By David George
Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 4:35 pm

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service today presented its Grenfell Tower progress report, amid the ongoing inquiry into London's Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, which killed 72 people.

The report showed not only how Hampshire's high rise tower blocks have been assessed, but also how the fire service has adapted and changed to protect residents, should a similar incident ever happen again.

Of the 371 buildings marked for inspection after a report in October 2019, only one building still needs to be assessed, which the service vows to complete before the end of this month.

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Pedestrians look up towards Grenfell Tower in London on June 14, 2017, as firefighters continue to control the fire that engulfed the building in the early hours of the morning. Picture: Adrian Denniss/AFP via Getty Images.

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New training and equipment have also been provided - with smoke hoods being highlighted as a particularly useful new piece of kit.

Assistant chief officer Stewart Adamson said: 'We have reacted quite quickly to this [the Grenfell inquiry].

'The review programme identified 371 buildings that needed work following the inquiry. The purpose of this work was to ensure the safety of residents and firefighters in these buildings - to add to them and make sure they are safe.

'If we find any issues we use our enforcement powers, and that has happened before.'

Alongside this proactive work, which was universally praised by politicians at the meeting, the fire service has also implemented new response plans, specific to high rise tower blocks.

A new training regime has been taking place over the past six months, with improved tactical guidance for firefighters.

Mr Adamson explained: 'We have a new procedure based on national guidance, which has been refined locally, which our firefighters have trained for.

'This includes evacuation management and better connection for our control room with the team on the ground, so information can be relayed better to those dealing with the fire.

'We also have new equipment - one example is our new smoke hoods, which are a final measure of defence in a smoke-filled environment.

'The inquiry is still ongoing and we expect to see further outcomes; we will react to that in our normal way, to learn and to improve.'

The smoke hoods can be used by firefighters and residents alike, and will prove valuable in the event of a high rise evacuation, Mr Adamson added.

Money for the smoke hoods came from central government, ringfenced to support recommendations from the Grenfell inquiry.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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