London Fire Chief: ‘Climate change has happened’

Published:
2:13 PM July 22, 2022



The devastating fires in the capital during the hottest temperatures on record were “unprecedented”, the London Fire Chief said, adding: “From my perspective I think climate change has happened”.

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe met London Mayor Sadiq Khan at Plaistow Fire Station, Newham yesterday (July 21) to pay tribute to the work of firefighters during the extreme heat.

The mayor said he was proud of the “agility” of firefighters, who had their busiest day since World War II on Tuesday (July 19) due to extreme temperatures, with crews attending 1,146 incidents that day only.

Asked about the experience of the capital’s fire service over the week, Mr Roe said: ‘I think the word I would use is unprecedented.

“I’ve had a long operational career in some of the most significant incidents London has seen in the past two decades, but even with all that experience I’ve seen things this week that I didn’t expect. to see as a London firefighter.”

Some of the 16 homes were lost in the Great Fire in Wennington, east London, and fire crews had to battle to save the nearby fire station itself from the flames.

A total of 41 shops and homes have been destroyed in London – with further fires in Dagenham, Wembley and Kenton

Mr Roe added: “From my perspective, I think climate change has happened. We saw fire conditions that I think we have seen before in continental Europe in the south or in the Americas.

“The extreme heat, so the 40C heat, does something for firefighting. We have a duty to learn from it. »

He said firefighters see climate change as “a growing future threat” and pose “one of the most serious risks” to the capital.

Mr Roe said: “We have in-house teams constantly looking to develop both equipment and procedures to deal with all the different threats imaginable in this place, one of the most extraordinary cities in the world.

“We’re very forward thinking with that and we’re thinking about it.”

He warned Londoners that the fire risk from the heatwave had not gone away, saying: “I would prefer you didn’t barbecue. I want you to carefully throw away your cigarettes.

“Please do not drop glass objects in open ground, handle responsibly in public areas as the ground is very dry, there is a very high fire risk.

“That risk hasn’t gone away in London, and it won’t until there’s been some very heavy rain and the ground is saturated.

“I would therefore ask all Londoners to act responsibly and listen to our safety messages.”

Mr Khan said the LFB had “done an amazing job”.

“I’m here to thank our brave firefighters for the job they’ve done,” he said:

“I think through a combination of their hard work but also the great citizenship of Londoners to go and warn their neighbors to allow them to leave their homes and places of work, thankfully no one has lost their lives due to the fires. , no serious injuries, although 16 firefighters were injured, two of them had to be hospitalized, but I am extremely grateful to the firefighters and relieved that the consequences were not even worse than they are currently.

“At the moment, we have enough resources in terms of firefighters, appliances, kits, etc.

“But if we have more regular heat waves at that kind of level, if we have more regular flash floods like we saw around this time last year – it could happen again this year, then I’m really concerned about the ability of firefighters.