'Postcode lottery' over response to tower block fires, FBU says

The different standards in how fire services can respond to tower block fires is a 'postcode lottery', the FBU has said. Credit: PA

The different standards in how fire services can respond to life threatening tower block fires is a "postcode lottery", the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said.

Only 33 of the 125 aerial ladder/platform vehicles (vehicles which have long ladders or platforms to reach fires in high buildings) in England are available round-the-clock because there is a lack of crews, according to new FBU research.

According to the FBU, location and resources are key to how firefighters can respond to an emergency and the pre-determined attendance (PDA) plan which can be triggered.

The PDA relates to the number of fire engines which can be sent.

Depending on where in the country a fire breaks out, the response can be very different, the FBU said.

Kent, Humberside and Nottinghamshire have just three fire engines and no aerial platforms, while Hampshire has a PDA of eight fire engines and an aerial vehicle.

FBU general secretary and former firefighter Matt Wrack described the findings as 'extremely concerning'. Credit: PA

The FBU also stated that the size of a fire crew can vary between four or five firefighters per fire engine.

FBU general secretary and former firefighter Matt Wrack described these findings as "extremely concerning" following the Grenfell Tower block fire, and branded this situation as "utterly unacceptable".

At least 80 people died in the fire at Grenfell Tower. Credit: PA

He said: "We find it staggering that nothing has been done to address this grossly unjustpostcode lottery of resources, and the fact that governments in all parts of the UK appear not to have even considered it is a disgrace.

"They now need to urgently instruct fire services to improve their fire and rescue planning to ensure a full and professional response to such incidents all over the UK.

"Citizens everywhere need to feel safe and confident that those in authority are taking their safety seriously. Anything less is, frankly, obscene."

In the aftermath of the Grenfell fire - which left at least 80 people dead - the FBU said they had hoped that an urgent review into the greatly differing standards and approaches of the different fire and rescue services across the country would have been set up.

Mr Wrack, in a letter written to the Prime Minster on Saturday, said: "This appears not to have been done, which causes us concern and alarm."