Advice to concerned residents living in high-rise buildings in West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is issuing advice and reassurance to people living in high-rise buildings, following the tragic fire in Grenfell Tower in London yesterday (June 14).

Area Manager for Fire Safety Chris Kirby said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this horrific fire in London which is truly devastating.

“In West Yorkshire there are around 400 high-rise buildings, with six or more floors, and it’s understandable that people will be concerned if they are living, or have relatives living, in this type of premises.

“Fires of this severity are extremely rare however, we would like to issue some advice and reassurance.”

Advice

High-rise buildings inherently create challenges to fire-fighting due to their design.  We do collect information on such premises, and our firefighters are trained and equipped to respond to fires in high-rise buildings.

The design of such buildings is that any internal fire within a high-rise should be contained to the flat where the fire started and the fire should not spread in the way that it did in London.

Such buildings do not necessarily require a communal fire alarm to conform to building regulations, but each individual flat would be expected to have smoke detection.

We continue to work with Local Authority partners, landlords and managing agents across West Yorkshire to promote best practice.

Until the full details emerge, we cannot speculate on why this incident developed as it did, but clearly we will be taking any learning that comes from this tragic event.

Advice for residents living in high-rise accommodation: 

Know your escape plan:

  • Make sure you are familiar with emergency evacuation procedures provided by the landlord or owner for your building.
  • Make an escape plan so that you and your family know what to do if there is a fire in your flat.
  • Practice this plan, make sure everyone understands it and knows where the door key is.

Should a fire break out:  

  • If there is a fire in another flat in the building, you are usually safest in your own home unless you are affected by the heat or smoke.
  • If it is too dangerous to follow your planned escape route because stairs and hallways are full of smoke, ring 999 and stay inside the safest room. Keep the doors closed and use towels or bedding to block the smoke at the bottom of the door.
  • Use the stairs, not the lift, when leaving the building in the event of a fire.
  • If there is a fire, never assume that someone else has called 999 – make the call yourself.

Fire safety in your building:

  • Keep exits and passageways clear of any obstructions.
  • Ensure doors to stairways are not damaged or faulty and report any defects promptly to the landlord or owner for your building.
  • Close all internal doors at night to prevent the spread of fire.
  • Never tamper with internal fire mains (dry riser) inlets on landings. These provide water to firefighters in an emergency and could cost lives if not functioning properly.
  • If you see a dry riser vandalised, report it immediately to the landlord or owner for your building.
  • Never use or store bottled gas cylinders in high-rise flats.
  • Never park so you block access to high-rise flats. Access roads are designed so fire engines can get as close as possible to fight fires.
  • Don’t start cooking if you are very tired or have drank a lot of alcohol – never use chip pans, use oven chips instead.
  • If you smoke, make sure you put cigarettes out properly, and don’t smoke in bed or while sleepy.
  • Check your smoke alarms regularly.