The fire which started as an electrical fault in a well maintained Victorian tunnel beneath the Kingsway on Wednesday 1st April burned until the Good Friday. This fire damaged an eight-inch gas main, which ruptured further fuelling the fire resulting in flames and smoke coming out of manhole covers in the road above. Modern technology proved itself in the use of infra-red images of hot spots from the National Police Air Service helicopter and live images in the tunnel using the Met Police’s explosives robot.
It caused about 5,000 people to evacuate from various buildings and roadways in the area and is estimated that approximately 100 businesses were affected as well as thousands of tenants. UK Power stated that over 3,000 people were affected by the power outage that for some continued until Good Friday.
Although the London emergency services and UK Power Network, National Grid and local councils acted together very successfully to contain the fire and extinguish what could have been a disaster for London, it is a warning to all London’s businesses and managed properties to have plans in place to protect the occupants, their property and businesses.
What should be in place?
Firstly a Fire Risk Assessment followed by a Fire Emergency Plan; these ensure that all the risks involving possible fires have been identified, with control measures (either in place or planned) and a plan of how everyone’s safety will be ensured. The Emergency Plan may have total evacuation, partial or to stay put until the Fire Brigade decide otherwise and importantly tested to be usable. This is the responsibility of the person ultimately in charge of the building to make sure this is in place.
Secondly, what happens if the ‘event’ continues on for days, weeks or months? This is where the Business Continuity Plan comes into play. Scenarios such as this fire are planned out with business responses that enable the business to continue functioning until everything is restored.
If you do not have these in place for either your business or a managed property (with more than one dwelling) then you need one – call Jane for advice on 01279 810125 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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