Sprinklers should be added to high-rise towers following firefighter deaths

Shirley Towers following the fire in 2010

Shirley Towers following the fire in 2010

by Jon Reeve , Education Reporter Updated on in News

A CORONER is demanding lessons are learned from the tragic death of two hero Southampton firemen.

Southampton coroner Keith Wiseman has issued a string of wide-ranging recommendations for fire services and social housing providers around the country, in the wake of the April 2010 inferno at Shirley Towers that claimed the lives of Alan Bannon and Jim Shears.

Amongst his recommendations he has said he wants sprinklers retrospectively added to all high-rise buildings, and a review of training for firefighters.

After hearing the St Mary's-based firemen died in extreme heat after getting trapped by fallen cables in a smoke-filled flat on the ninth-floor of the tower block, he is calling for changes to ensure there is no repeat of the conditions that led to the apartment becoming a “death-trap”.

In recommendations which he wants sent to every fire service and social housing provider in the UK, Mr Wiseman has said there should be changes to building regulations as well as a review of the training given to all firefighters.

He has given three government ministers and the country's chief inspector of fire services two months to respond to the suggestions he has made under legal powers granted to all coroners.

A jury last year returned a verdict of misadventure for the two members of Red Watch, in which it said “obvious precautions” to stop the fire had not been taken, while the conditions for all those involved in the emergency response became “extremely difficult and dangerous”.

Jurors said “numerous factors have been identified as being relevant in the chain of causation which could have affected the eventual outcome”.

After hearing 15 days of often-harrowing evidence, Mr Wiseman has now drawn up a series of changes he believes are needed to ensure there is no repeat of the tragedy.

In a statement, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said today it “welcomed” the coroner's recommendations.

The service said: “The recommendations are helpful in publicising the conclusions from the inquest and we fully support the Coroner's approach.

“These recommendations call for action not only from fire and rescue services (FRS), but also from Government - something the Service has been pushing for through the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA).

“The day after the incident, in which we lost our two colleagues James Shears and Alan Bannon, the Chief Officer John Bonney made a firm commitment that we would learn from that night. Our resolve remains as strong today as it was then to learn the lessons from the tragedy.

“The Service's commitment to respond to the events of Shirley Towers will not end here.

“Our crews continue to respond to emergencies, exposing themselves to risk every day to protect our communities.

“The best tribute we can pay to Jim and Alan is to carry on providing the very best service that we can to the people of Hampshire and ensuring the fire service as a whole benefits from our learning.”

Read the full letter below:

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5:30pm Tue 5 Feb 13 kingnotail says…

Knock it down more like. Why is regeneration seemingly a dirty word in southern England?

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5:38pm Tue 5 Feb 13 Fatty x Ford Worker says…

Ugly Buiding knock it down and give people a decent Home!

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6:11pm Tue 5 Feb 13 elvisimo says…

completely avoiidable. The nasty scum bag Karl Hoffman sat there with his curtains sat on top of a lamp then tried to put the fire outwith a bottle of Dr Pepper - before being rehomed and swiftly beating up a man in his 70's and pushing him down the stairs. - Sprinklers will not help - labotomy for the likes of Hoffman will.

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6:45pm Tue 5 Feb 13 upstandingbigot says…

It's not always the building, in some instances it's the people who live in them. In this case Mr and Mrs Hoffman, very well known in the Shitley area for their antisocial behaviour, barely avoiding a procecution for unlawful killing ( they each gave conflicting evidence at the inquest!). Karl Hoffman was relocated to Weston and within months had knocked a pensioner down a concrete staircase who dared to complain about noise coming from the flat above. He is still locked up, thankfully, serving a three year sentence. Knocking it down is not an option in this day and age when so many decent families are looking for places. Don't forget once upon a time these towers represented decent homes and could be again but wheat and chaff comes to mind when thinking about residents. Problem is too much chaff.

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7:13pm Tue 5 Feb 13 loadcee says…

Fully agree just put down scum who take the **** trying to put out a fire with Doctor Pepper . How the hell did they not get done for manslaughter?

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7:32pm Tue 5 Feb 13 chunky_lover says…

ban these people from smoking and drinking in "their" homes.

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7:47pm Tue 5 Feb 13 upstandingbigot says…

loadcee wrote…

Fully agree just put down scum who take the **** trying to put out a fire with Doctor Pepper . How the hell did they not get done for manslaughter?

Lack of definitive evidence, you either charge both or neither of them and since their stories didn't match any decent lawyer would get them off. But logic alone determines a case to answer......this is the scourge of Shitley hoovering the floor!, Dr.Pepper when water comes through a tap! don't smell burning for 15 mins, a neighbour has to phone 999!, in Shitley, allegedly, everybody was aware they wanted out of the flat and did what they had to, they got their wish. Too many illogicals to list here but there certainly is much much more to this than meets the eye.

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10:46pm Tue 5 Feb 13 Ginger_cyclist says…

Shouldn't there be dry risers in buildings like that with access to them on the outside and a lock that only the fire service has a key for? Also, the cables the 2 heroes got tangled up in, shouldn't have been able to fall freely to get tangled, no doubt they were just stapled into the wood which shrank due to the heat of the fire, causing the staples to easily fall out under the weight of the cables, sprinklers are also a good idea... In communal areas, otherwise people would be getting a shower each time they burned something while cooking.

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10:48pm Tue 5 Feb 13 sparkster says…

I agree with the post above, ie its not so much the homes its the people who live in them, i cant believe the bloke tried putting out the fire with dr pepper doh!!!!!!!

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12:15am Wed 6 Feb 13 saintsbabygirl123 says…

the person who lived in this flat only got 3 yrs are you kidding he should get longer then that. and he has been moved to weston. where there is 6 tower blocks. with loads of young familys and eledlery its a disgrace u shouldnt rehome in these sort of tower blocks !!. just anyone know where in weston ?

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