Monday, July 06, 2009

Fire at Lakanal House

Friday night's fire at Lakanal House on the Sceaux Gardens Estate has left us all shocked and deeply saddened. It is hard to comprehend that six people lost their lives in this fire in the heart of Camberwell, just behind the Town Hall.

I had visited the block on a number of occasions and recall it well. There was a security entrance system on each side of the landings and the communal areas had a fairly claustrophobic feeling. But this is not uncommon in many blocks of a similar age in the borough - so I can't imagine that it contributed in any way to the tragedy.
There are clearly lessons which need to be learned from these awful events, and I hope that there will be some things that can be done sooner rather than later. For example, fire drills in our council blocks might offer some reassurance to residents and give them vital information about what they should do in a fire. Can we introduce sprinkler systems to our blocks which only have limited emergency exits? Should we install US style fire escapes on buildings?

Council Assembly will be meeting on Wednesday evening where I imagine that many of these issues will be raised. I know that many people on the estate and living in similar blocks are very worried at the present time, so we must act to reassure them as quickly as we can.

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