Fire Safety: Pause for Thought

This week’s news gives pause for thought. Firstly, for the souls who perished in both the London tower block fire and in the appalling forest fire in our newly adopted home country of Portugal. We cannot begin to imagine what it is like to be trapped on a high floor, or to find yourself in a car with the fire approaching you from every direction.

In the still-under-construction complex in Portugal where we shall be working, we live on the top floor (the fourth) of a newly constructed ‘staff accommodation’ block. Central staircase and lift shafts, external balconies on the floors below but not ours, which instead has access to the roof. No flammable materials in the building construction so far as we know, thank goodness. But no external fire escape either.

To the great credit of the Russian-led management, there has been some serious re-consideration of the fire safety in not just our block but in the considerably taller accommodation blocks in which the holidaymakers will reside following the recent events, and our input has been requested. Each apartment has a smoke alarm, and the building has a fire alarm – seriously loud, as we knew from when it has been tested. There is no gas supply – all installed equipment is electric. Nonetheless, there is consideration being given to adding external ladders to our smaller block, although this leads to a reduction in security, with a re-think too about the taller blocks – sprinklers? – which could even delay the opening of the first half of the place.

I should also commend the local fire service (‘Bombieros’) who were already conducting inspections before we left for the US summer-camp work which is now into its third week. The Bombieros use huge fireworks to summon their teams, and have a ‘celebration day’ each year when the expired fireworks are let off as part of a public event to raise funds for the local volunteers. Unaware of this, we thought that world War 3 had broken out…

We have no forest near us  in Portugal. Having watched Eucalyptus trees exploding on the TV news, following a lightening strike in a ‘dry storm’ where the rain evaporates before hitting the ground, that is thankfully something we probably don’t have to worry about. Amazing temperatures, though: 40C in Portugal right now (hotter than here in TN) and even our homeland UK seems to blistering in 34C according to reports from home. And even we are covering up in the midday sun…

So, as our thoughts lie with those who died and their grieving families, I’ll keep this post separate from the usual display of fitness pictures, and deal with that separately. The image below comes from a wonderful location in the English Lake District which featured strongly in my second and third books.

A historic church next to a place of immense tranquillity in that circle of ancient oaks. The picture feels appropriate.


About tony

Born Northampton UK
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2 Responses to Fire Safety: Pause for Thought

  1. Platinumboy says:

    External fire escapes are important. On America’s older buildings, the final floor’s escape ladder must be manually lowered by the escapees to prevent crooks from using the fire escape as a means of entry. Interior, obstruction-free staircases with roof and ground floor exits are the law. Multiple smoke detectors in each apartment/office are the law. Fire suppression and sprinkler system requirements as well as the presence of fire extinguishers vary by jurisdiction.

  2. Pingback: Solstice Story | Tony Cavanagh

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