Friday, January 22, 2010

Rowena Court Fire

The smoke billowing from the corner of Rowena Court attracted my attention at just about the same time as I heard the approaching sirens from several fire engines this morning.

I was out walking the dog along the beach at Westgate's St Mildred's Bay at 8am and so had a grandstand view of the action unfolding in front of me.

There was a fire-alarm signal bleeping loudly from the corner building – one very good reason to have one of these installed in your own home - and the firemen were energetically trying to find the best way to approach the building with their engines. From where I was standing, this offered a future lesson to our own planning officers and members of the planning committee at the council when judging such applications in the conservation area. Building Rowena court flat-up against the sea front provides no easy means of access for the emergency services and this led to a visible delay in deploying the vehicles, ambulance included, as they had to leave the road and negotiate tightly parked cars. Before I was a councillor, some readers may recall my aerial banner protest against the demolition of Sea Tower and a new development, positioned just next door to Rowena Court and in future, I believe better planning attention needs to be given to the possibility of events similar to those I witnessed this morning.

I watched, as Fireman donned their breathing equipment and went into the building, apparently recovering one elderly gentleman, who was taken to a waiting ambulance. As I left to take my daughter to school the four fire engines appeared to have the incident under control. While I don't pretend to be an expert in such matters, fire engines are of a standard size and if the fire had been more serious, I believe the delay in being able to deploy the emergency response in such a tight and potentially inaccessible spot could have proved an important factor in rescuing residents.


Ken Gregory said...


You make a good point about fire and rescue access, but the fire service are consultees with applications of the size of this premise.

In addition, the reason Fire appliances carry the amount of hose they do, is to access places that have access restrictions.

Also, it is bad fire fighting practice to position an appliance too close to property that may be on fire. Those appliances can cost upwards of £250,000, and at that price you do not even want to singe it

Michael Child said...

Simon Ken I have practical experience of TDC consulting with Kent Fire and Rescue with reference to the Pleasurama development.

TDC consulted but didn’t send them the vital documents the EA report strongly recommending a food risk assessment and emergency escapes to the cliff top as the site is likely to be subject to what the EA call RIZ see and the principle condition report on the cliff façade that says you can’t put something heavy like a 20 fire truck near the edge of the cliff see

Simon you are very familiar with the sea in this area Ken you were in the fire service, in the last tidal surge storm the sea threw a crane weighing 12 tons from the beach over the sea defences into where the building will be.
So you tell me how do you evacuate about a thousand people from the development during one of these RIZ incidents?

Mr Friday said...

I saw an ambulance struggle through the traffic down Haine Road on the way home from work tonight. Seemed to take forever to get from the ambulance station to the Pearce Signs roundabout. I was thinking I hope the poor sod who is waiting for it to arrive isn't in too bad a shape.

Another example of where poor planning decisions could potentially affect someone's life.