Firefighters train on biggest ladders in UK bought for London Fire Brigade after Grenfell Tower disaster

·2-min read
London Fire Brigade’s 64m turntable ladder (Ross Lydall)
London Fire Brigade’s 64m turntable ladder (Ross Lydall)

London firefighters are being trained to use the longest turntable ladders ever seen in the UK.

A crew was testing the 64m (210ft) ladder at a tower block beside the Household Cavalry barracks, on the edge of Hyde Park, on Thursday.

The London Fire Brigade has acquired three of the aerial turntables, which cost about £1.3m each, and the first is due to enter service by the end of the year.

Blowing in the wind: firefighters say the top of the ladder moves in the wind (Ross Lydall)
Blowing in the wind: firefighters say the top of the ladder moves in the wind (Ross Lydall)

The brigade was in the process of upgrading its fleet of 32m aerial ladders - buying 12 such appliances - before the Grenfell Tower disaster in June 2017.

It then added three 64m platforms in the wake of public concern that it did not have the correct equipment to fight a tower block fire.

Grenfell, in which 72 people lost their lives, had 21 storeys and stood 67.3m high. The first stage of the public inquiry into the Grenfell disaster made a series of recommendations for the London Fire Brigade but was silent on its use of long ladders.

The Grenfell Tower fire claimed 72 lives after a blaze broke out on June 14 2017. (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
The Grenfell Tower fire claimed 72 lives after a blaze broke out on June 14 2017. (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Firefighters involved in today’s training said they managed to extend the ladder to a height of 62m before becoming too wary of the way the cage at the top moved in the wind.

Each ladder extends in seven sections, has a hosepipe and a central “escalator” able to transport rescued people to the ground.

Ten storeys and going strong: the ladder can reach to about 21 storeys (Ross Lydall)
Ten storeys and going strong: the ladder can reach to about 21 storeys (Ross Lydall)

Each ladder weighs 30 tonnes and can only be used from the road because of its weight. Driving it on to the pavement could cause a collapse in the ground.

Two of the three Super Hi-Lift turntable vehicles were bought for the brigade by the London Freemasons at a cost of £2.5m. The third was bought from brigade funds.

The ladders will be based at fire stations in Barking and Dagenham, Wimbledon and Old Kent Road but will be able to respond to tower block emergencies across London.

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