Fatal Shirley Towers blaze 'likely to lead to new rules'

Cables and wires inside the flat which caused problems for firefighters

Cables and wires inside the flat which caused problems for firefighters

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter

New rules are likely to be introduced to stop cables falling to the floor during fires after the problems they caused during the Shirley Towers blaze, an inquest heard.

Southampton Coroner's Court has heard both firefighters Alan Bannon and Jim Shears were tangled in cables when they were rescued from Flat 72 on the night they died, on April 6, 2010.

Fire investigator Richard Hunt, from the London Fire Brigade, said new regulations to make surface mounted cabling stronger is likely to be included when the next set of electrical regulations is published.

It comes after a coroner recommended new rules in the wake of another fatal fire in Hertfordshire where cables caused firefighters problems, five years before Shirley Towers.

Mr Hunt said: "A mechanical strip or something of that nature would be fitted within the plastic trunking that would not allow the cables to drop and become a danger to firefighters as we saw.

"But it's not going to happen overnight."

The inquest also heard the first fire crews to enter Flat 72 should have raised concerns that one of their hoses was too short.

Mr Shears, 35, and Mr Bannon, 38, went inside to help manage the situation for their colleagues without a hose of their own because theirs wouldn't reach into the flat, after it had accidentally been connected on the fifth floor rather than the seventh.

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Mr Hunt said national guidance suggested the covering hose should always come from higher in the building than the first one, but that could be overruled by an individual fire service after carrying out a specific assessment of a building. According to Hampshire Fire and Rescue's evaluation of Shirley Towers, both hoses entering Flat 72 on the ninth floor should have been attached to a dry riser on the seventh floor, and therefore would have been long enough to cover the whole flat.

Several firefighters repeatedly attempted to clear an assumed snagging of the second hose because it wouldn't reach far into Flat 72.

The inquest has heard Mr Bannon, from Bitterne, and Mr Shears, from Poole, died after being overcome by excessive heat.


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