Blue light services team up for experiments to help keep high-rise residents safe

TWFRS Station Manager Jay Shepherd, Sergeant Nicola Macgregor of Northumbria Police, TWFRS Fire Investigation Technical Manager Nathan Stonehouse, and Ian Bell of Your Homes Newcastle. They are pictured inside a YHN property in Walker, Newcastle.

Fire investigators have been working with a Newcastle housing provider to keep high-rise residents across the city safe.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) last week conducted a series of tests at a high-rise tower block in a bid to reduce dangerous fires.

They were joined by staff from Your Homes Newcastle and Northumbria Police as they conducted fire tests on bin chutes at the building in Walker.

In a controlled environment, different ignition sources were set alight and dropped down different bin chutes onto a pile of combustible materials.

They were then monitored to determine the probability that a major fire would start as a result of their careless disposal.

Not only will it help housing providers make their properties safer – but it will assist police in determining likely causes of potential arson attacks.

It is also hoped that the experiment will help fire investigators and police hold suspected arsonists to account by putting their explanations to the test.

Today (Monday), one of TWFRS’s top fire investigators is praising the collaborative work to help keep our communities safe.

Nathan Stonehouse, Fire Investigation Technical Manager and Arson Liaison Officer for TWFRS, said: “Being able to conduct these experiments provides us with real evidence about how fires can start in this environment and how they can’t.

“We included a number of typical household ignition sources in our experiment, so that we could understand which ones are mostly likely to cause fires.

“This is the start of a suite of work around bin chute fires which will help us form more sound conclusions during our fire investigations.

“This will no doubt assist the Police with their prosecutions but it will also help housing providers make their buildings safer.

“I want to thank Northumbria Police, Your Homes Newcastle and Thompsons of Prudhoe, who provided the materials for the experiment, for their support.”

Sergeant Nicola Macgregor, of Northumbria Police, said: “This exercise has been hugely valuable in helping us to determine exactly how fires can begin in domestic settings.

“Through this partnership working alongside Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Your Homes Newcastle, we can further refine our ability to investigate malicious blazes and help bring more of those responsible to justice.”

David Langhorne, Group Director of Assets and Development at Your Homes Newcastle, said: “We manage 42 high-rise blocks across Newcastle and we do everything we can to make these safe and comfortable places for our customers to live.

“There are lots of safety measures and precautions in place in our buildings but we also rely on residents to play their part in keeping themselves and their neighbours safe by acting responsibly and following the safety advice we give them.

“We are pleased to work with our colleagues in the fire service and police on projects like this that help us understand more about how our buildings operate and how we can all work together to keep them safe.”