Rise in tall buildings in Norwich creates challenges for firefighters
PUBLISHED: 06:30 27 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:15 27 May 2019
Copyright: Archant 2019
The increase in the number of people living in tall buildings in Norwich is creating new challenges for firefighters, but fire chiefs insist they are well equipped to cope with the city's changing skyline.
If the Anglia Square development - which is the focus of a planning inquiry - goes ahead, it would include a 20-storey high residential tower block.
It comes at a time when offices are increasingly being turned into accommodation, which means more people in Norwich than ever before are living in high-rises.
Examples include the converted 13-storey Westlegate Tower and the nine-storey St Stephens Towers.
Newly-built Pablo Fanque House in All Saints Green is 13 storeys, while other blocks are taking shape in St Anne's Quarter and the Carrow Quarter near Norwich City's stadium.
Such buildings join the likes of the 16-storey Normandie and Winchester Towers and the 11-storey towers in Mile Cross and Heartsease.
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In the aftermath of the tragic blaze at Grenfell Tower in London, where more than 70 people died in a blaze at the 24-storey block, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service carried out assessments of all city buildings of six floors and above.
The fire service recently bought a second-hand aerial ladder platform from their counterparts in Essex, but, like the current vehicle, that is only able to reach 32 metres - roughly nine storeys.
However, Greg Preston, assistant chief fire officer, said his firefighters would not be relying solely on the platform when it came to battling flames in high rise buildings.
He said: "The buildings in Norwich are getting taller and that does present us with challenges. But, with the way new buildings are designed it means we are able to fight fires from within the buildings.
"The aerial ladder platform is a really valuable vehicle to have, but the modern buildings are designed with fire fighting lifts, which allow us to get into them.
"The modern buildings have lobby areas, which mean we can be in there, with a bulkhead, two floors below where the fire is and we can fight the fire from in there.
"That is why building design is so important."
Mr Preston said the fire service had carried out considerable work since the Grenfell tragedy and buildings were subject to regular inspection visits.