Major Fire Incident | London | 1

NORTH KENSINGTON, LONDON UK

A Major Incident. A Shocking Scene.

An 27-story apartment high-rise called the Lancaster Estate building was engulfed in flames from floor 2 all the way to the top floor close to 0100 hours BST on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 (about 8 hours ahead of West Coast time).

Burning this morning at 0630 hours BST on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (Photo Credit: London Fire Brigade)

Resources Out in Force

The London Fire Brigade, along with mutual aid from North Kensington, Kensington, Hammersfield and Paddington fire personnel and command staff responded immediately.  Additional Departments also responded from surrounding communities for a total of 200 personnel and 40 engines.

A presser was released in there are 30+ injured and a large number of unaccounted people.  London Ambulance Services had transported about 30 patients to 5 different London hospitals.  They also deployed their HAZMAT unit and Trauma team along with 20 ambulances on the fire ground.

Unconfirmed Cause

Unconfirmed media reports are saying that there was a faulty fridge on floor 4 that caused the fire but the structure is still ablaze.  From our experience here in the States, we know for sure that Investigators will not be able access the building until the fire has been put out and cooled down.

Evacuations

Police have cordoned off 30 flats and evacuated its residents from their homes around the structure.  We are unsure if this is the collapse zone or if they are being proactive should the full structure integrity fail.

Exposures

In looking at live photo coverage, it appears this 27-story building has many exposures on all sides of the building.  In one image, it appears the fully engulfed tower may leaning.  We are hoping the fire will burn itself out and no collapse will occur.

More information to be posted soon.

Could This Have Been Prevented?

We are not firefighters nor are we even Fire Investigators for that matter but we, like many of you consider fire safety a priority in our lives – even teaching others about safety at home and work.  Here in the U.S., we are all about #SeeSomethingSaySomething that goes for anything criminal, dangerous or suspicious, including fire dangers and reporting them to the proper authorities.

It appears that the residents of the Grenfell Tower did just that – over and over again without any action by the landlord or its management representatives.

In this case, this fire was predicted – almost one year ago from a blog posting by the Grenfell Action Group, an organization that has been fighting back on slum housing issues and fire dangers lurking in the Grenfell Tower.  The group has been fighting against the Social Housing Agents Kensington and Chelsea TMO (KCTMO) who own and manage the building.

Red Flags

The Grenfell Action Group appears to be doing some pro-active work on fire prevention but at yet every turn, they have been hit head on with obstacles, excuses and inaction.  One haunting post is that they predicted this very fire back in 2016 and tried to get Management to hear them out.

With us living in the United States, there are many slum housing but this ranks pretty high on our list of being angry this has happened to these people who were innocent.  We can only assume that it was more for the money, then for the care of these residents, which we find disgusting and the whole world should stand up for what is right.

Regardless if this was an accident or intentional, it appears that the group’s multiple haunting echoes of fire danger lurking in their building has now come true and is obviously too late to change for the better.

Here are some  of their postings.  (We have reached out to reprint their story but they do not have any contact information on their Blog.)

Grenfell Tower Fire| https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/grenfell-tower-fire/ (June 14 2017)

Fire Prevention | https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/kctmo-feeling-the-heat/ (March 14 2017)

Fire Dangers | https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/kctmo-playing-with-fire/ (Nov 20 2016)

Requests Ignored | https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/why-are-we-waiting/ (June 10 2013)

Unknown Cause of Power Surges | https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/grenfell-tower-from-bad-to-worse/ (May 29 2013)

Power Surges Cause Water Shutoff | https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/more-trouble-at-grenfell-tower/ (May 28 2013)

Complaints Ignored | https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/another-fire-safety-scandal/ (February 21 2013)

Blocking Emergency and Fire Access to the Building | https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/more-on-fire-safety/ (June 30 2013)

Fire Safety Scandal  | https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/fire-safety-scandal-at-lancaster-west/ (Jan 28 2013)

We know this topic of affordable housing rights runs deep and cannot understand why other think it is right to allow their residents to live this way.  We say it is shameful and undignified.

Though the cause may or may not be found, we know that from all of these fire safety requests left unanswered, there are more questions as to why or how this inferno could have been started or even prevented in the first place.

– Our prayers and thoughts go out to the Londoners no matter who you are, what race you are or what your worth is – we are here for you. – LR Swenson, Blogger/Writer/Editor

Updates

We will be providing additional updates as information is received. Thank you for joining us

(c) 2017 The NW Fire Blog

 

 

 

 

London Hospitals, EMS Face Serious Challenges

North London, UK | Hospital bosses had to declare an ‘internal emergency’ and turn away ambulances from a packed A&E unit – weeks after they closed a nearby emergency department.

Doctors at Barnet Hospital in North London had to shut their doors to ambulance patients on January 31 this year – only to do the same thing again just two days later.

According to a leaked letter, ‘capacity issues’ in the hospital’s A&E forced ambulances to be sent elsewhere.

Struggle: Doctors at Barnet Hospital were forced to declare an 'internal emergency' shutting their doors to ambulances after being swamped by patients

Struggle: Doctors at Barnet Hospital were forced to declare an ‘internal emergency’ shutting their doors to ambulances after being swamped by patients

The two incidents follow the controversial closure last December of Chase Farm Hospital’s A&E six miles away, which has heaped pressure on nearby hospitals.

Last night, a spokesman for Barnet And Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust denied the diversions were caused by the A&E downgrade, adding: ‘The Trust experienced high numbers of attendances and ambulance arrivals to A&E on 31 January.

‘As a consequence of this, and in line with NHS England policy, Barnet Hospital declared an internal emergency and… non-urgent ambulances were diverted.’

She added that diverts, as they are known, were not unusual and that there were 19 in total across England that weekend.

But angry campaigners claim the A&E closure is ‘putting lives at risk’, while local MP Nick de Bois said that hospital managers had serious questions to answer.

Dozens of A&Es across the country are under threat, as the Government and some doctors argue that the NHS cannot afford to have an emergency unit in every hospital.

Critics have warned of the knock-on effects of the closures, which can force seriously ill patients to travel further to receive treatment – and then face more delays once they get there.

Downgrade: Chase Farm Hospital's A&E was controversially closed. It is six miles from Barnet Hospital, heaping pressure on the North London trust's emergency department

Downgrade: Chase Farm Hospital’s A&E was controversially closed. It is six miles from Barnet Hospital, heaping pressure on the North London trust’s emergency department

Paramedics say the Chase Farm closure has led to a dramatic increase in ‘stacking’ at North London hospitals, where ambulances have to queue to drop off patients.

‘I have always said the downgrade was the wrong decision, because the demands of the local population would lead to problems at other A&Es.

Official NHS statistics bear this out, showing the number of ambulances waiting for more than 30 minutes outside one hospital has risen seven-fold.

‘I have always said the downgrade was the wrong decision, because the demands of the local population would lead to problems at other A&Es’

– Nick de Bois, Tory MP for Enfield North

Last week, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said that ‘centralised, large units… work best’ and warned that the NHS could not afford to keep smaller departments open.

But Kate Wilkinson, of the Save Chase Farm campaign group, said: ‘This has become a very dangerous situation where there are not sufficient front-line services to deal with demand. It’s putting lives at risk. There needs to be some serious and honest discussions with the decision makers, who need to admit there is a lack of services.’

Last month, this newspaper revealed how two-year old Hashir Naveed died  after his desperate mother took him to Chase Farm at 3am – only to discover that its A&E department had recently been closed down.

Two weeks later managers declared an ‘internal major incident due to capacity issues in Emergency’ at Barnet Hospital with ‘ambulances queuing’, according to a letter to GPs.

East of England Ambulance Service was asked ‘to ensure that alternative hospitals are utilised’ and GPs were told not to send in patients ‘where possible’.

Stacking: The closure of Chase Farm's A&E has also heaped pressure on North Middlesex University Hospital, where 34 extra ambulances have flocked to the trust every day since the closure

Stacking: The closure of Chase Farm’s A&E has also heaped pressure on North Middlesex University Hospital, where 34 extra ambulances have flocked to the trust every day since the closure

The crisis in Barnet’s A&E on January 31 was triggered by there being ‘no beds available’ for admitted patients to move into, wrote Jacqui Bunce, associate director of East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group. Two days later a similar thing happened and ambulances had to be sent elsewhere.

Last winter, when Chase Farm A&E was still open, ambulances never had to be diverted from either hospital.

NHS statistics also show that since Chase Farm A&E closed on December 9, ambulances have had to wait outside Barnet Hospital for more than 30 minutes on 236 occasions.

Over the same two-month period  last winter, that happened only 167 times – and then the figures related to ambulances outside both hospitals, not just Barnet.

However, the increase in stacking outside North Middlesex Hospital has been far more startling.

Since Chase Farm A&E closed, ambulances have had to wait over 30 minutes on 941 separate occasions – or 14 times a day. During the same two-month period last winter, this only happened 132 times – or twice a day.

Dangerous situation: Nick de Bois, Tory MP for Enfield North, said: 'Before Chase Farm A&E closed we were repeatedly told that capacity at Barnet would not be an issue. These early indications suggest that clearly they cannot. I have always said the downgrade was the wrong decision'

Dangerous situation: Nick de Bois, Tory MP for Enfield North, said: ‘Before Chase Farm A&E closed we were repeatedly told that capacity at Barnet would not be an issue. These early indications suggest that clearly they cannot. I have always said the downgrade was the wrong decision’

North Middlesex board minutes show concern over the issue with the hospital receiving 34 extra ambulances a day since the closure, ‘compared to an expectation of 29’.

This has led to ‘some clustering of ambulances which has caused some pressures on the flow of patients in to and through hospital’, wrote director Martin Armstrong.

Ambulance crews are meant to hand over patients within 15 minutes of arriving but performance on this is ‘significantly below target’.

A North Middlesex spokesman said that, as a result of the changes that included the Chase Farm downgrade, it was expected the hospital would see an extra 26,000 patients a year.

Nick de Bois, Tory MP for Enfield North, said: ‘Before Chase Farm A&E closed we were repeatedly told that capacity at Barnet would not be an issue and they would be able to cope. These early indications suggest that clearly they cannot.

‘I have always said the downgrade was the wrong decision, because the demands of the local population would lead to problems at other A&Es.

‘When you have got ambulances stacking up outside the doors of North Mid to that extent, it does beg the question: Why are we downgrading other emergency departments?’

Two-thirds oppose plans for new NHS database that will see confidential medical records sold to private firms

Two-thirds of the public oppose plans for a new NHS database that will see details from confidential medical records being sold to companies, a poll has found.

Within weeks, GPs will be forced to hand over medical records, including sensitive information such as mental health diagnoses, to build the database.

Last month it emerged that four in ten doctors intended to opt their own records out of the care.data project.

Now an online poll of 1,161 adults  by YouGov has found widespread opposition among the public.
When asked if they would ‘support or oppose’ proposals to allow firms  to access the database in exchange  for a fee, 65 per cent said they  were against the idea.

Retired GP Dr Ron Singe said: ‘The Government needs to explain who is going to get access to this data, for what purpose and for how much.’

Martin Caldwell, of pressure group SumOfUs.org, which commissioned the poll, said: ‘The consequences for ordinary people could be huge.

‘It’s not hard to imagine the value  of this information to the likes  of insurance companies, banks  or marketing firms.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2560270/Hospital-declares-internal-emergency-turns-away-ambulances-swamped-following-A-E-closure.html#ixzz2tQvNLnyP

2014 The NW Fire Blog

London Fire Brigade Firehouses Closing But Still Remain on Job

London, England – A news story has been floating around with the scene of a two firefighting hugging, saying their good-byes with the title in large letters that read about closing stations and firefighters losing their jobs.  The article goes on to say that they are cutting 552 jobs.

So, we went on a hunting trip to see just what was going on in the great land of London and how firefighters lives would be forever changing.  

First, we learned that yes, they are closing stations – however, they are no planned layoffs or firings according first hand information received from the London Fire Brigade’s Communication Officer Robert McTaggart.  “

According to a press release received “The Brigade is faced with significant budge cuts which means that changes to the service are inevitable and we are able to make those changes without cupulsory redundancies.  The firefighters based at the stations closing will now transfer to other stations and continue the excellent work they do to prevent fires, which is vital in changing the behaviours that start fires in the first place.”

Members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) voted to approve the London Safety Plan on September 12, 2013.  

Prior to the closures, the Brigade had 169 Fire Engines and 112 Fire Stations.  The Number of Fire engines will be reduced by 14, meaning London will have 155 fire engines and 102 Fire Stations.

Fire Stations located in Belsize, Bow Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminister and Woodwich will close.

Second fire engines will be removed from Chingford, Clapham, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone, Peckham and Whitechapel; while other Fire stations will receive second fire engines at East Greenwich, Heindon, Orpington, Stanmore and Twickenham.

Fire rescue units (specialist rescue vehicles) will be reduce from 16 to 14; from Hornchurch and Millwall.

Firefighters will be reduced from five to four on each crew rig.  The reduction in the number of firefighter posts will be from those who decide to retire or from quitting.

These stations are due to close on midnight Thursday of this week.

“Brigade will remain world-class and Londoners will still be safe”, says Authority Chief, ahead of station closures.

(c) 2014 The NW Fire Blog