The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has issued safety advice for residents of high-rise accommodation in the wake of the tragic events in London this morning.
A NIFRS Spokesperson said: “The thoughts and sympathies of NIFRS are with those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy in West London in the early hours of this morning.
“In light of this unprecedented incident, we wish to reassure people living in high- rise accommodation in Northern Ireland that fires of this scale are extremely rare however, we are providing fire safety advice for anyone concerned and living in a high- rise building.
“We carry out regular visits to high-rise buildings in across Northern Ireland and our Firefighters are routinely involved in training exercises to respond to incidents in these types of buildings.”
Advice for people living in high-rise accommodation:
Check if your building has a fire policy which will advise you on a specific fire safety plan for that building in the event of a fire - this will determine your emergency plan. High-rise buildings are designed to resist fire, stop the spread of smoke and provide a safe means of escape. Your building’s fire policy may dictate that you remain in your flat during an incident unless you are directly affected by the fire.
Make an escape plan so that you and your family are fully prepared if there is a fire in your flat. Tell your family what the escape plan is, and where the door key is. Practice what you would do if you had a real fire.
Make sure stairways and fire escapes are kept clear of all obstructions and that fire doors are never locked.
Regularly walk escape routes and check that you can open the doors to stairways from both sides.
Never tamper with internal fire mains (dry riser) inlets on landings. These provide water to firefighters when there’s an emergency. It could cost lives if they’re not working properly when there’s a fire.
If you see a dry riser vandalised or damaged, report it immediately to the manager of the building.
Never use or store bottled gas cylinders in high-rise flats.
Never park or block access to high-rise flats. Access roads are designed so that Fire Appliances can get as close as possible to fight fires.
In the Event of a Fire:
Dial 999 and follow your building’s fire policy.
If the fire is in your flat follow your escape plan and dial 999. You won’t be able to use the lift if there’s a fire so choose an escape route that takes this into account.
Never assume that someone else has called 999. Make sure your neighbours know about the fire. Bang on their doors on your way out.
If it is too dangerous to follow your escape route because the stairs and hallways are filled with smoke, ring 999 and stay inside the safest room. Keep the door closed and use towels or bedding at the bottom of the door to block the smoke.
If you become trapped in your flat due to heat or smoke try and stay calm.
Pack blankets or clothes around the door to keep smoke out and dial 999.
Hang a towel or similar item out of the window to let Firefighters know your location when they arrive.
If there’s a fire elsewhere in the building, you are usually safest in your own flat, unless heat or smoke is affecting you – in this instance if you can escape safely you should get out and stay out and dial 999.
For more information visit www.nifrs.org/fire-safety/community-information-bulletins/
If you are concerned about your fire safety or the fire safety of a family member or friend, contact NIFRS Prevention and Protection Department on 028 92664221 to speak to an officer.