Manchester fire chief warns industry that water cannot be pumped higher than 60m

The fire brigade has warned that it cannot pump water high enough to fight fires that break out during the construction of tall buildings.

The warning comes a week after four people died in a fire that ravaged the 35-storey Jumeirah Lakes Towers development, which was under construction in Dubai.

More than 50 people were injured in the blaze, which happened last Thursday. Some 300 workers were on site at the time.

Although fire crews reached the scene quickly, dozens of workers were trapped on the tower’s unfinished upper storeys.

This week, the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said it would struggle to put out fires in tall buildings under construction because water cannot be pumped higher than 50-60m, and the service relies on fire-fighting lifts to raise fireman higher than that.

The service warned that half-constructed buildings were particularly hazardous, as fire control measures such as sprinkler systems, pressurised shafts and rising water mains have not been installed.

Russ James, GMFRS area commander for fire safety, said the increasing number of high-rise developments meant the industry should change its construction methods to make it easier to tackle fires at height.

James said the brigade wanted to meet industry representatives and work out ways of altering project plans so fire-fighting aids were installed earlier. He said the service was working with the Health and Safety Executive in the north-western region on getting the message out, and was set to meet the London Fire Brigade later this month.

In a separate move, GMFRS has asked for protective shielding to be fitted to cladding panels made with plastic foamed insulation at a city-centre residential scheme called The Edge. This follows a fire in a 20-storey block at the project two years ago.
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