Monday, October 06, 2008

After the fire

One of my more important jobs during my blogging hiatus was to visit Darlington Fire Station for a briefing on current operations.

As a newly-appointed member of County Durham and Darlington Fire Authority, getting to know my local station (becoming a "member champion" in the jargon) is a key task.

Beyond that, however, I wanted to thank the officers personally for their sterling efforts during the fire at the Kings Head Hotel last month. That there were not serious injuries or worse; that the building not completely gutted and the fire contained was a testimony to the skill and the bravery of the fire fighters on duty that night. That the Summer Market Spectaculoar was able to go-ahead the following morning almost completely unaffected was remarkable, and a testimony to all the emergency planning undertaken by the emergency services together with the Borough Council.

As I indicated at the subsequent Fire Authority meeting, it's a shame that the bravery displayed on the night, in particular to rescue two Chinese guests, was not picked up by the media at the time. I was assured that there will be an opportunity for the full account of the night to be told to the press.

Out of the same Fire Authority meeting came the news that Northumbria Water refused to allow fire fighters to alter the water pressure in the pipes serving the town centre, which was requested to help tackle the blaze. Fortunately, resourceful crews were able to tap the nearby River Skerne, but as my Tory colleague Doris Jones pointed out at the meeting, what would have been the consequences had this source not been available?

I understand that Scrutiny will be receiving a briefing from CDDFRA on the Kings Head fire, and I'm sure this issue will be explored in greater detail then.


Fireman Sam. said...

Did you get to slide down the pole?
It would seem most appropriate in light of the slippery pole Nu-Labour is going down ;)

Anonymous said...

How come you missed the chance to call yourself "Fireman Sam", was it because the "Bob the builder" comparison ended in tears?

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read the comments on this blog, I don't normally read these types of things but have had this story pointed out to me.

I am afraid that the story that has been told in this fire meeting seems to have some facts missing. To be fair I would guess that the Fire Service don't actually understand the way the water distribution system works.

Basically the town centre pressure is not reduced in any way, so in reality at the height of the fire there was no way Northumbrian Water could increase the pressure, how this would help the situation I do not know, maybe the fire service actually wanted a bigger flow of water, if so increasing the pressure would not necassarily give you more water as the size of the water mains under the ground would restrict the volume of water you could receive.

You can open valves as much as you want but the same pressure is either side. I would guess the only way that pressure could be increased is to up the pumps at the treatment works on Coniscliffe Road. To do this would bring on the possiblilty of bursting water mains throughout the town and also a strong possibility of causing 10's of 1000's of properties to have discoloured water. Upping the pressure all of a sudden to properties would also give you the possibilty of causing residents internal pipework to blown apart, flooding peoples houses. I doubt the houseowners would not accept the fact that their house was flooded because of a fire in a hotel. Did we really want that to happen just because the Kings Head was on fire?

It is very easy for people to say "Northumbrian Water refused to allow this and that" but when you are actually given the true situation then I think people would have a different view on things.

Looking at how many tenders were on site and how many hoses were attached to water mains I think it is pretty impressive that the water system provided as much as it did.