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Shirley Towers blaze inquest: water to fire delayed
7:21am Thursday 21st June 2012 in News
FIREFIGHTERS were delayed in getting water up to the ninth floor of a tower block while a fire raged inside a flat because cupboards containing essential pipes could not be opened.
The information was revealed during an inquest into the deaths of firefighters Alan Bannon and James Shears, who died while fighting the blaze two years ago.
when a master key could not unlock the door to give fire crews access.
Inside the cupboard were dry riser pipes, which can be used by firefighters who are called to an incident in any high-rise block, to quickly get water up to significant heights. On this occasion they had to use equipment to force open the wooden door.
Mr Anderson, who lived in the tower block where he had been warden for 16 years, said the cupboards were often vandalised or used by drug addicts to discard paraphernalia.
He told the inquest: “People place stuff in them. Drug users put needles in them and sometimes people put glue in them. It delayed them a while.”
The jury heard how it was unclear who was responsible for regularly checking that the cupboards on each floor could be opened with the key.
Describing how events unfolded on the night of April 6, 2010, Mr Anderson told how a large group of residents had gathered outside the tower block and were watching what was happening.
Others had stayed within their homes, waiting for advice from the fire service.
Mr Anderson told how he took firefighters in the lift to the ninth floor, where the fire was burning inside flat 72, started by a curtain which had been placed on top of a lamp.
Dad-of-one Mr Bannon, from Bitterne, and his Red Watch colleague Mr Shears, a dad-of-two from Poole, both died after being overcome by intense heat inside the flat.