UK

New London Fire Brigade equipment after Grenfell Inquiry recommendations

The service is now using the tallest turntable ladders in its history.

The London Fire Brigade is now using the tallest turntable ladders in its history
The London Fire Brigade is now using the tallest turntable ladders in its history (Jordan Pettit/PA)

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) now has the tallest turntable ladders in its history, among a host of new equipment introduced by the service after the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s first phase.

A 64m turntable ladder (TL), which can reach up to 23 stories high, was used at the fire at Forest Gate police station last Wednesday.

The TLs have been in circulation for about two years, with the tallest ladders previously reaching half their height, at 32m.

The new turntable ladders can reach up to 23 stories high
The new turntable ladders can reach up to 23 stories high (Jordan Pettit/PA)

Firefighter Jonathan Birks told the PA news agency that the new TLs have lifts to get “multiple casualties” from high-rise buildings to the ground quickly, and can attach to a stretcher to move people with spinal injuries.

There are three 64m TLs in the service. in stations at Old Kent Road, Dagenham and Wimbledon, and they can be used as water towers at fire scenes.

Other pieces of equipment introduced or improved since the 2019 recommendations include fire escape hoods, drones and breathing apparatus sets.

Firefighter James Bryant said fire escape hoods are worn by members of the public to safely evacuate them from smoke-filled interiors.

Drones are useful in locating missing people
Drones are useful in locating missing people (Jordan Pettit/PA)

He said about 200 people have already been led to safety using them.

“This will give 15 minutes of filtration from carcinogens that are carried in the smoke,” the firefighter told PA.

Station officer Guy Tillotson described the LFB’s drone team, set up in the aftermath of the Grenfell blaze.

He said drones have thermal imaging and optic cameras from which pictures can be streamed to officers on the ground and in control rooms.

Around 200 people have been led to safety wearing the fire escape hoods
Around 200 people have been led to safety wearing the fire escape hoods (Jordan Pettit/PA)

Mr Tillotson told PA drones were “really good for locating missing people” and smaller ones, which can fly internally into collapsed buildings, are especially useful at finding people.

Temporary sub-officer Kat Wilson talked through the brigade’s new breathing apparatus sets, which are lighter, can be cleaned more thoroughly, and via which firefighters can share air if an officer is running low on supply.

The LFB has also introduced new radios which can transmit further and have a greater number of channels, and which connect to communication devices that fit into the breathing apparatus masks in an improved way.

The service’s fire survival guidance (FSG) app, launched in 2022, was also developed directly from one of the recommendations of the inquiry.

Firefighters with a reportedly lost dog
Firefighters with a reportedly lost dog (Jordan Pettit/PA)

Deputy assistant commissioner Joanne Smith said it allows information to be collated and displayed on one platform, and accessible from the ground and from control rooms.

The Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service can access the portal as well.

“It replaces communications via voice over a radio,” Ms Smith told PA.

The LFB also rolled out modernised command units, described as “an office on wheels”, last winter.