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Most fire services would have sent high ladder to Grenfell-type blaze: report

It took half an hour for a high “aerial” ladder to arrive, as the device was not part of London Fire Brigade’s predetermined attendance plan

The majority of fire services would have immediately sent a high ladder to Grenfell Tower if the blaze had broken out in a block in their district, according to the BBC’s Newsnight programme.

Of the 44 fire services in the UK that have high-rise blocks in their areas, 31 would have immediately dispatched a high ladder to a similar fire, a report by Newsnight has found.

It took half an hour for a high “aerial” ladder to arrive at Grenfell Tower, as the device was not part of London Fire Brigade’s predetermined attendance plan (PDA) for such a blaze.

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An aerial appliance applying large quantities of water to the outside of the tower was later in place (Victoria Jones/PA)

A PDA is the number and type of vehicles and equipment a service sends initially as standard to a certain type of fire.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, told the programme such an appliance arriving earlier “could have made a big difference”.

He said: “An aerial appliance applying large quantities of water to the outside of the building could have made a big difference. It clearly did make a difference when it arrived.”

The London Fire Brigade has since changed its PDA for tower blocks to five fire engines and an “aerial appliance” high ladder.

It says this was in response to government inspections of cladding on high-rise buildings, rather than to the blaze at the 24-storey residence in west London itself.

Newsnight found that, as well as London’s fire service, three others have now altered their PDAs post-Grenfell and nine fire brigades still do not automatically send an aerial ladder to respond to fires in tower blocks.

The programme also found that PDAs for similar fires vary widely across the country.

Three fire engines would be the first response to a tower block fire in Kent, while a similar blaze in Surrey would get six fire engines and a high ladder.

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From Belfast Telegraph