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Parking round Little Ilford tower blocks could cause serious fire safety risk, ex-firefighter claims

PUBLISHED: 15:54 18 September 2018

Ex-firefighter Steve Lashmar, who's concerned about parking on the forecourts of tower blocks in Little Ilford. Picture: Ken Mears

Ex-firefighter Steve Lashmar, who's concerned about parking on the forecourts of tower blocks in Little Ilford. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

An ex-firefighter claims the parking around four Newham tower blocks poses a serious fire risk.

Steve said firefighters may struggle to extinguish fires in the building if their way is blocked by parked cars. Picture: Ken MearsSteve said firefighters may struggle to extinguish fires in the building if their way is blocked by parked cars. Picture: Ken Mears

Steve Lashmar, who lives in Warrior Square in Little Ilford, said people are parking on the forecourts of Charlbury House, Willis House, Arthur Walls House and Blakesley House.

If a fire broke out, he said the parked cars could delay firefighters being able to tackle the blaze.

Dry riser mains – the pipes which firefighters use to pump water from engines into the building – are on the left of the blocks’ security doors. Steve said vehicles on the forecourt are parked against the front of the towers, blocking access to the mains.

“If there were a fire in the building, and you couldn’t see where the main is, that would be a huge delay,” the 66-year-old said.

Vehicles parked round Willis House, one of the tower blocks in Little Ilford. Picture: Steve LashmarVehicles parked round Willis House, one of the tower blocks in Little Ilford. Picture: Steve Lashmar

“Physically trying to get the hose into the riser is also an issue and if you need to pitch ladders up the forecourt, that can’t be done.”

Steve said it could delay rescuing people.

“It’s a fire and rescue operation, it’s not only about extinguishing,” he said.

“If you can’t achieve the basics then it could seriously affect the operation.”

Vehicles parked round Willis House, one of the tower blocks in Little Ilford. Picture: Steve LashmarVehicles parked round Willis House, one of the tower blocks in Little Ilford. Picture: Steve Lashmar

Steve, who retired from the London Fire Brigade in 2012, said him and his wife, Sandra, contacted the council after the Grenfell tragedy.

“My wife worked at Little Ilford’s tenants association and she was always flooded with questions about fire safety,” he said.

“She raised it with the council, who said action would be taken immediately. In a letter dated August 10 2017, they said they’d install bollards to the forecourts of the towers and write to residents. It’s not been done.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We are very sorry about the delay.

“In the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy our building and maintenance teams were tasked with many urgent review, repair and alteration works, which were given immediate priority. This piece of work should have been part of this programme but due to demands on the service it has not been completed in the timescales we previously committed to.

“This work has now been prioritised and will be carried out this week.

“The blocks continue to be subject to regular fire safety checks by the London Fire Brigade, where any safety concerns are immediately raised with the council.”

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