LONDON FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE AGAINST FIVE FLOORS OF FIRE IN HIGH-RISE BLAZE!
An on-scene report by Assistant Divisional Officer Steve Dudeney - London Fire Brigade.
Pump High-rise Fire; Telstar House, Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, London
Pump Ladder, Pump and Turntable Ladder from A21 Paddington and the Pump from A22
Manchester Square were called at 20:44hrs (BST) to a Fire Alarm Actuating at
Telstar House, Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, London W2.
House is a Thirteen Storey Steel framed concrete Office Building built in the
late 1960’s measuring approximately 300ft x 50ft. It has a Ground Floor
entrance lobby and the upper floors are built above an open parking area. There
is also a two Storey retail/Living unit used as a Public House/Restaurant built
adjacent to the Ground Floor entrance lobby. There is a Staircase at each end of
the Building, the staircase at the Eastern (main entrance end) also has a
protected Elevator/Firefighting lobby. No sprinklers are fitted within the
structure but all areas are covered by an automated Fire detection system. Each
floor of the Building is open planned with multiple work Stations and low level
partitioning. There is no HVAC system fitted in the Building, ventilation is
provided by pivoting windows across the façade of the Building. At the time of
the fire, the Building was occupied by a project team from London Underground
Limited (London’s Underground Railway Operator).
first Crews arrived three Minutes after the initial call (A21 Paddington Fire
Station is less than half a mile away). Crews arriving at the Building could see
no signs of fire and had no reason to suspect that this call was any different
to the 14 other Alarm Calls that had been attended in the
Building in the previous 12 Months; Nevertheless, in accordance with LFB
SOP’s Crews were rigged in SCBA and equipped with Firefighting equipment.
first Incident Commander approached the entrance to the Building and was
informed by an on duty security guard that the alarm panel was indicating a fire
on the 7th Floor of the block. Asked if everyone was accounted for he
could not be sure but suspected that one person, allegedly working on the floor
below the fire had not been accounted for.
Station Officer sent his deputy and a Crew wearing SCBA and 1.75 Inch hose up to
the Fire floor. They alighted the elevator on the floor below the fire and were
met by a janitor who pointed upward and continued down the stairs. As they
approached the entrance to the 7th Floor Office the Crew saw smoke
and Flames behind the door. The Sub Officer radioed the IC and informed him that
there was a fire in Progress and that the riser (standpipe) should be charged
with water, he ordered the two SCBA wearers to connect the Hose and nozzle and
don their SCBA, meanwhile he and another Firefighter attempted to attack the
fire with a small bore fixed hosereel fitted inside the building.
this time the third Pump from A22 Manchester Square pulled onto the block,
Firefighter from this Appliance saw some evidence of smoke coming from the
seventh floor windows at the Eastern end on the South side.
Sub Officer and Firefighter on the 7th floor started to attack a fire
in the first ‘work bay’ on the left using the fixed Hosereel; this had no
effect on the fire which was burning from floor to ceiling and had entered the
false ceiling panels overhead. They retreated to the Firefighting lobby and
closed the door behind them. At this time they were joined by the two SCBA
Firefighters who had connected the 1.5 Inch hoseline to the riser outlet on the
floor below. The line was charged and the Crew entered the Fire compartment.
a matter of Minutes after the first two Firefighters had withdrawn, the SCBA
Crew entered the Fire compartment and were immediately faced with a severe fire
that was rapidly consuming the 7th Floor open planned office. The
heat was unbearable and they were immediately forced onto their Stomachs where
vision was nil and heat was beginning to penetrate their turnouts.
withdrew and requested that the Aerial ladder be deployed to ventilate the Fire
about this time, The Station Officer at the command point in the street was
interrupted by a bang; he looked up and saw that the fire had broken out of a
window on the 7th Floor. He immediately made Pumps Four, the time was
20:53hrs. Crews had been in attendance for no more than 6 Minutes.
minutes later Pumps were made up to six, further Crews were despatched to the
6th floor to set up an effective Bridgehead as well as a Crew who were committed
to the 8th Floor with another 1.5 inch Handline to search for missing
persons and check the fire above. By the time the line was charged and the Crew
committed, the 8th floor was becoming smoke logged but fire had yet
to penetrate that level.
this point most of the windows on the fire floor had failed and flames were
licking the 8th floor, conditions inside the fire floor had improved
slightly due to this ventilation and a second Crew were committed however the
increased ventilation had seen to it that the whole floor was involved in fire,
the 1.5 inch handlines with combination nozzles were proving ineffective in
overcoming the rate of burning due to insufficient flow and reach.
additional hand line was got to work by inserting a dividing breeching (Siamese)
into the 6th floor riser, this involved a temporary loss of supply to
one of the lines. As soon as the supply was re-established to these
lines…albeit at a lower flow, another Crew entered the Fire floor. The first
Crews withdrew due to low pressure warnings on their SCBA leaving a Crew of two
within the fire floor.
crew soon became overwhelmed by the volume of fire and the senior of the two
made the decision to withdraw. Progress out was slow as a large amount of
electrical cabling was hanging from the ceiling and the Crew were becoming
entangled in it. They were also feeling the first signs of heat exhaustion.
this point the First Assistant Divisional Officer (Chief) arrived on scene and
took over command of the Incident from the Station Officer, fire was seen to be
extending into the 8th floor so Pumps were made up to ten and
additional Aerial Appliances were requested.
on the 7th Floor the Crew inside had actuated the Automatic Distress
Signal Units (ADSU’s) two emergency Crews were sent in to rescue the team, one
of the Firefighters had become disorientated and wandered back into the fire
where he soon collapsed. His partner quickly located him and was able to drag
him back toward the exit where they were rescues by the other teams. It is
worthy of note that at this time the Firefighter who went to the aid of his
stricken Brother was also suffering from severe heat exhaustion and had only
been out of Training School for three weeks.
Crew was removed to the Staging area on the 6th floor where their
SCBA and turnouts were removed and water was given to them to assist in
re-hydration and cooling, paramedics were summoned to the area and the Crews
were removed, The first Firefighter was admitted to Intensive care with sever
heat exhaustion and burns, his partner and saviour was also admitted for heat
exhaustion but was released the following day. After a stay in hospital this
Firefighter is well on the way to recovery while the other has returned to duty.
this period of rescue activity coincided with the withdrawal of the Crew from
the 8th floor, the Crews that were scheduled to replace him were held
up by the greater priority of assisting in the Rescue of the Crew in distress,
this allowed the fire to auto extend unchallenged into the 8th floor
via open windows.
were eventually made up to twenty with four Aerial Appliances. With the Duty
Assistant Commissioner in overall command of the incident.
eventually consumed the whole of the 7th to 10th Floors. 4
Aerial monitors and a high flow ground monitor used from the roof of an adjacent
building assisted in controlling the fire on the lower floors while a valiant
and successful effort by SCBA Crews eventually limited the spread of fire to10%
of the 11th Floor by 02:00 hours the following morning. Over 150
Firefighters on more than 35 Appliances fought the battle through the night as
Crews remained on the scene until well into the next day.
missing person was found safe and well elsewhere and the fire is believed to
have been started by faulty electrics. London Underground Limited working with
the London Fire Brigade were able to put into place their Disaster recovery
Programme. All personnel based within the building were relocated to other sites
across the capital the following day.
The South Side of the Building on the following
morning. The fire started in the area arrowed.
The North side of the Building; although Fire started
on the opposite side, damage was greater on this side due to air currents.
Inside the 7th Floor looking at the area
where fire started.
Inside the 11th floor where the battle was