Fire chiefs offer reassurance over building safety in County Durham after Grenfell Tower disaster

Fire chiefs have attempted to soothe fears lax building regulations could lead to a Grenfell Tower-style incident in County Durham or Darlington.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th November 2019, 9:52 am
Stuart Errington, chief fire officer (CFO) at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service

Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of rules following the tragedy has called for builders and others involved in the construction industry to take the lead on improving safety without waiting for new government guidelines.

But after concerns were raised the design of new buildings in the region could create unnecessary risks, bosses moved to reassure the public about safety measures.

“I don’t think there’s anywhere in our service area we don’t believe we can respond to with the required level of response,” said Stuart Errington, chief fire officer (CFO) at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS).

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue HQ

“We’re in a fortunate position that we don’t have any highrise buildings and the two high level platforms [CDDFRS has] can reach any of the premises we have.

“The reason we maintain two is so we have the level of cover that if one is off for servicing we have the other as well – they’re very expensive pieces of kit, but that’s why we’ve invested in them.

“I would like to reassure everyone that while there may be a specific incident where access is difficult, we have not identified anywhere where it is a specific issue.

“There are not lots and lots of places where we cannot get the level of response we need to.”

CFO Errington was speaking at this morning’s (Wednesday, November 6) meeting of the Combined Fire Authority for County Durham and Darlington, which oversees the work of CDDFRS.

Fire chiefs had been taking questions on the fire service’s proposed Integrated Risk Management Plan, which sets out how it will work across its area over the next three years.

This has raised the prospect of an overhaul of crewing arrangements in Seaham, Newton Aycliffe, Durham, Spennymoor, Crook and Barnard Castle.

But a planned six-week public consultation which was supposed to start later this month will now be pushed back following the government’s decision to hold a general election on December 12.

This is due to strict ‘purdah’ rules which restrict the announcements and decisions government departments and other organisations can make during election campaigns.