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Kensington Fire

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Kensington Fire

Old 16th Jun 2017, 07:15
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Kensington Fire

What a tragedy. RIP to all those lives lost and condolences to the families of the missing.

I salute the firefighters who went in to save lives. Brave.

Difficult to pick out the facts and I know there is an inquiry. However, I read a report that there were no units tall enough to reach the upper floors. There are many questions yet unanswered about why regulations were not in place etc. However, as a helicopter pilot I was looking at the footage taken during the night and it was possible to make out the roof in the aerial shots which seemed to stay clear of flames. With coastguard helicopters ready and within range would this be considered an option by anybody and if not why not? It seems people were in the tower hours after the first firemen got there, within the response time of the coastguard. I am aware that there would be updraught, danger from smoke, bad flyaway. However, I believe there are/were marine fire teams ready to be deployed to burning ships and rigs, what about for tower blocks built in the 70s? Would it be considered by the coordinating team and if not why not?

Hompy
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 08:29
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Hompy, the short bit of film I watched showed thick black smoke billowing vertically upwards from the flats. I dread to think what the temperature was just above the flats. I don't think hovering a helicopter above that block would have been feasible.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 08:49
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Helicopters for high rise evacuation

I don't know if it was feasible, probably not, but the question is rather whether it was considered or not? It has helped before in Bangladesh:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1161793/Towering-inferno-Helicopter-plucks-survivors-blazing-skyscraper.html


I know it has been discussed before on this forum:

http://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/292056-helicopters-skyscraper-fires.html

Just wondering if or why they weren't tasked to 'have a look'.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 09:17
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More to the point. If we had just one helicopter equipped with the Simplex Water cannon system,as they have in Japan,China,Moscow and elsewhere with high rise blocks a lot of grief could have been avoided.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 09:40
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Originally Posted by heli1 View Post
More to the point. If we had just one helicopter equipped with the Simplex Water cannon system,as they have in Japan,China,Moscow and elsewhere with high rise blocks a lot of grief could have been avoided.
True, but that costs money, as do sprinklers and fire retardent paneling. I was just wondering if the existing paid for resource - winch and flir equipped S92s on 24hr standby could be used for this sort of job. Land on a field, pick up a team and winch down or flir spotting. It has probably all been considered and ruled out, but maybe not and it would cost little extra.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 09:52
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Hompy...don't disagree but well worth the investment as are Bambi buckets for Heath fires, and equipment easily kept at a central base for installation on helicopter when needed.We are behind the rest of Europe and the world.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 09:54
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Handy
I dread to think what the temperature was just above the flats. I don't think hovering a helicopter above that block would have been feasible.
I have hovered drone helicopters very close to raging fires, including buildings.
The airflow through the rotors has a cooling effect to the fuselage especially if hovering in clean air on the upwind side of the building or just to one side.
The downwash can fan the fire but this is usually insignificant in comparison to a fuel fed raging fire.

Perhaps in the future the fire and rescue services could look at what may be done with a bamby bucket at least.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 09:54
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Originally Posted by heli1 View Post
Hompy...don't disagree but well worth the investment as are Bambi buckets for Heath fires, and equipment easily kept at a central base for installation on helicopter when needed.We are behind the rest of Europe and the world.
Sadly, it is becoming obvious.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 10:54
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Welcome back to the Kaman Husky. Its primary advantage as a fire/rescue helo was that the rotor downdraught was well ahead of the aircraft giving a flame free working environment for the fire crews. Having done a sortie of sea winching in one with a 'visiting fireman',() land use would be my preferred option!
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 11:54
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Thoughts are also with the crew of the Met police helicopter.

Mjb
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 12:07
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Originally Posted by mickjoebill View Post
Thoughts are also with the crew of the Met police helicopter.

Mjb
What's that in relation to?
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 18:03
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Originally Posted by Animal Mother View Post
What's that in relation to?
If you have never been in a situation in a helicopter where you know people are dying nearby and you can do nothing about it then I'm not surprised you don't understand. From personal experience I do understand and agree with mjb's sentiments.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 18:40
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Important to also note that many UK Fire & Rescue Services cut their maritime firefighting capability when their budgets were slashed... i think its now a small smattering of regionally deployed firefighters that convene at a given location to be picked up by UKSAR, the difference in this tragedy is that there were many firefighters on scene at Grenfell with an impossible task of reaching the upper floors.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 19:27
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You have to wonder when there is only one stairwell, why we do not insist on outside fire escapes as seen in the USA.
There didn't seem to be a central main gas shut off, or if there was it wasn't used, you could see and hear the gas making the fire worse as each floor went up.
After recently seeing several HiRise fires in the middle east with similar external cladding, I find it hard to believe that this stuff is even allowed to be manufactured, let alone used.
Criminal not insisting on automatic Sprinklers for any building higher than a fire appliance can reach.
Bambi buckets might well have helped in this instance.
A lot of lessons to be learned on this, but will they?, or will we be having similar discussions in a few years time.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 20:19
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Having spent many an hour on a Bambi Bucket on many extremely large forest fires, I can safely say I wouldn't of gone anywhere near that building.
I have experienced first hand the winds, up drafts and turbulence around large fires. When a fire burns with that heat and intensity, you don't actually drop on the fire, the water/foam would evaporate before it hits the target. You drop around it to soak the bush to slow it down.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 20:19
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Not sure that external fire escapes would have been much use in this situation.

How many stories up do the US external ones go? Not that high I think.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 20:59
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Originally Posted by newfieboy View Post
Having spent many an hour on a Bambi Bucket on many extremely large forest fires, I can safely say I wouldn't of gone anywhere near that building.
I have experienced first hand the winds, up drafts and turbulence around large fires. When a fire burns with that heat and intensity, you don't actually drop on the fire, the water/foam would evaporate before it hits the target. You drop around it to soak the bush to slow it down.
Well most of the facades remained fire free before being eventually engulfed. In my humble opinion that was definitely opportunity for some aerial rescue. The problem is that the initial response was to "stay in" and when the firefighters realized how terrible that option was they pretty much watched people die before their very eyes left, right and center. Just terrible.

Much easier with hindsight but aerial evacuation was possible. To what extent, with what risks and with what material are all questions I don't have the answer to. I too would be interested to know if it was considered.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 21:53
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Originally Posted by atakacs View Post
Well most of the facades remained fire free before being eventually engulfed.
Agreed.
Footage around 3 AM shows that it took at least one hour before all sides of the Building were engulfed. So there would have been a time window of roughly one hour.
In my humble opinion that was definitely opportunity for some aerial rescue.
The question would have been how to extract the people from the building?
Would not have been easy with a helicopter since there were no balconies or other platforms from where to extract. Extracting from open Windows would have been very difficult and risky. And all that at night over a heavily burning building. I'm not sure if that would been really possible.
The problem is that the initial response was to "stay in" and when the firefighters realized how terrible that option was they pretty much watched people die before their very eyes left, right and center. Just terrible.
That must be absolutely horrible. Staying put in this case unfortunately meant certain death. In hindsight.
A few might have survived had they tried to flee through the staircase or even the elevator (which is normally not a good idea in a burning building).

A big and high building with only one rather small staircase, no other emergency exits, no sprinklers is really a death trap and if this wasn't enough on top of all this an easily flammable Insulation. I wonder how this can be legal. Someone should really go to jail for allowing this. If I were living in a high rise building I would check my housing immediately for similar traits and leave ASAP if I were to find more than one similar aspect.

The initial cause of the fire is an almost irrelevant minute detail to this tragedy. In such a big building there is always a possibility that a fire might break out. But that shall never, ever spread like in this horrible case.
Honestly, I wouldn't have thought this to be possible in a first world Country.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 00:24
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This resident says he woke to the smell of smoke, approximately 40 minutes after the first 999 call.

https://youtu.be/2cMaT5t6wxc
Having studied the usefulness of aerial loud hailers in bushfires, is there a role for police helicopters to alert public who are likely to be asleep?
At very least a few very low noisy orbits and zero the night sun into windows for good measure?
2 minutes of mayhem to help awaken residents, before moving back?

Do the Met still have skyshout?

Mjb

Last edited by mickjoebill; 17th Jun 2017 at 01:00.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 01:10
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Folks....read the JB Thread about the Fire.

Short version....Welcome to the Big City with all its attendant problems and issues.

Old buildings, poor Fire Codes, worse enforcement of Fire Safety Requirements, Privatization of Inspections, obsolete design of buildings, lack of emergency evacuation routes and procedures, bad Response Protocols, inability of Fire Equipment to reach the site....the list is a long one.

The Investigation, if done properly, shall be a very nasty review of what is wrong with multiple layers of Bureaucracy, Corruption, Political failure, and lack of proper prior planning and execution of emergency efforts.

Lots of brave people trying to help others in a terrible time....but a disaster that was easily foreseen had anyone really been looking and wanting to do something about preventing it.
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