Effects of Grenfell Tragedy in Shropshire

Station Manager Ian Leigh at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service who listened to Dame Judith Hackitt's keynote speech at the recent National Fire Chiefs Council conference


Changes will be made to make buildings safer in Shropshire following the Grenfell tower block tragedy, say senior officers from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service

Fire officers are expected to be given more powers to question new developments and planned alterations to buildings when Dame Judith Hackitt reveals the results of her review of building regulations next month (May) following the Grenfell high rise flats tragedy in which 71 died when the 24 storey block was destroyed by fire in June last year.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Andy Johnson and Station Manager Ian Leigh, from Shrewsbury fire HQ,  attended the national conference of the National Fire Chiefs Council in Oxford where Dame Hackitt was the keynote speaker.

“We don’t have a Shard in Shropshire and we are not festooned with high rise buildings. But that is not to say that the Hackitt report will not affect us in our county,” said Ian, who added that they attended the conference to get a better understanding of how new legislation may affect the county and the fire service.

“Throughout Shropshire we are seeing ever more new developments both domestic and commercial. We have to look at how we manage fire safety now and in the future. As a fire and rescue service we have to be ready to respond to new legislation when it comes in.”

He revealed that fire safety reports from officers on planned developments were, currently, only advisory recommendations and could be legally ignored.

“We expect that to change and for our advice to be acted on in changes to be implemented after the Hackitt report. Dame Hackitt indicated that there would be greater accountability, more powers for the fire service for enforcement and we would have a meaningful voice on building regulations.

“It is all positive news with the end result that there will be safer buildings, people will be safer and there will be less potential for fire deaths and property loss.”

Four officers at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are trained to the highest level to carry out fire safety audits on complex high rise structures. This allows the Service to maintain a consistent approach with people who know Shropshire and means they do not have to retain the use of fire engineers until required for specialist consultation.

“We are a small fire and rescue service in Shropshire but the need to ensure buildings are compliant with building regulations is important whether it is one storey or 100 storeys tall. This is why we continue to invest in training our officers up to the highest level to be able to give expert advice on complex developments.

“We work hard to ensure that buildings are safe so that we don’t have to rescue someone. It saves costs to the public purse, the business community and most importantly, saves lives.

The number of accidental fires in non-domestic premises has been cut by 32% since 2014/15 as fire officers ensure county businesses comply with their responsibilities under fire regulations.

27th April, 2018