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Pre-arrival video: Firefighting in the U.K. as school burns.

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Parts of Lichfield's Cathedral School remain closed after a fire that saw 200 children evacuated from the building.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said the school carried out a "well co-ordinated evacuation" after the fire was discovered.

Hundreds of pupils were evacuated from a school in Staffordshire after a laptop computer exploded.

At the height of the blaze, crews from Lichfield, Tamworth, Chase Terrace, Burton and Barton under Needwood were in attendance.

Phil McFarlane, lead officer for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue, said so many firefighters were needed to ensure the flames did not spread to the cathedral.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • 95%er

    what a loverly ole building in a loverly old village. well hey maties, got an idea for you.
    see that brown thing on the fist floor, the wooden thing at the top of the stoop with the brass handles. yea, maties, yup that thing, we over here in the states call it a door.
    so matie, you turn that handle and you open the door. yup, jsut like that. then you know that heavy thing you got on your back, you call it the BA, we call it the SCBA, well you put the mask on and you breath in and breath out, and you take that nozzle and you open the door and climb up the stairs and you go to the room on fire and THEN you open up the nozzle. And the fire goes out.
    yes mate, thats how it's done.


    Yeah, very nice demonstration of OUTstanding firefighting.  At least they weren't breathing air from their SCBA as they stood out there.  I wonder if the ladder that was raised to the fire window was in case they decided to enter that way (since the interior stairs had obviously been freshly waxxed and were unavailable) or was the ladder in case a victim had survived up to that point and was expected to climb out under their own power. 
    And, yep, they sure did prevent the fire from spreading to the cathedral…yeah, that one across the street from the room and contents fire.  Nice save, Lads.  Geez.

  • Scooter

    95%er …. enough said…. ditto… I waiting to see fire blowing through the roof….  strike da box K

  • play4keeps

    Occupied school.  Ordinary construction with easy entrance.  The lack of an interior attack is cowardly, IMO.  I was in London and saw the LFB operate and I must say the operation was different but that  they corridinated interior operations fairly well with the board. and timers.  I will then say that, supposedly, the LFB is not like the rest of the Country.  Then again itt is a nationalized and unionized fire service, right?
    Whatever.  The Brits always thought we were kind of cowboys in our approach to interior attack. If we are cowboys, what does that make their tactics look like – squirrels and scared zeros.
    You don't want to slam a fire service that was here hundreds of years before ours, but if we used the British approach in the US, I believe the fatality rate and property loss rate would be double – 'sorry to say matties.'  Yes, they are much smaller and don't have the wood frames and varied construction as we do. It is no matter, other than thatched roofs, most of the construction is ordinary or fire resistive and lends itself well to an aggressive interior attack.   
    It is suprising that you don't see much aggressiveness and control of stairwells over there.  "Little drops of water," I know I've heard it all before.  

  • T. McLoughlin

    What I see is a complete lack of training and education, a department of men (and women?) who no doubt would and could be as capable a firefighter as anyone else in the world, but who clearly have been trained to fight from the outside, and have had that so instilled in them that it seems to have never entered their minds to do otherwise.  There is no other explanation for this failure to enter the building to fight this fire and to perform search and rescue to ensure no children or staff were hding or trapped within.  Time to do some soul searching fellas, time to organize and demand a change in your training, your practices, and your supervision.  Ask some experienced experts in and re-train yourselves to fight fires, perform search and rescue, and save property, the job I'm sure you all want to excel in, and are capable of excelling in.  It's wise to not unecessarially risk your lives when not warranted, but to remain outside a possibly still occupied school building with no obvious risk of collapse is just beyond comprehension.   Use this as an unfortunate learning opportunity.  Best of luck to you all.  Would love to hear what changes do occur down the road.

  • ltfd seattle

    "Phil McFarlane, lead officer for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue, said so many firefighters were needed to ensure the flames did not spread to the cathedral".
    Yeah, sure. The masonary construction (beautiful, classic architecture) cathedral appears to be approximately 100 yards/meters away from the ROOM fire in the ordinary construction fire building. I'm not sure why the exposures of concern weren't the room(s) across the hallway from the fire room, the remainder of the structure, or the structures across the street from the fire building. The cathedral, as an exposure, was NEVER a concern- don't lie to the public/media when you talk to them.

  • Fire21

    OK, they fight fire differently in the UK as compared to the US…nuff said.  I found the hydrant system to be MOST interesting.  Wonder what they get for flows?

    • CHAOS

      Looks like no more than 2.5" (if that) pipe coming up out of the opening.  I guess what we call an antique water system here passes for new school over there, considering that their "new construction" is probably older than our oldest construction.  Maybe this explains why we don't see anything remotely ressembling LDH over there and the resulting small attack lines.
      Wonder how they'd react to a big ol' 40,000 lb engine rolling in dropping 5"?  Culture shock, for sure.

      • Shh….

        I can see many problems with a water system like that. Here in the USA, in the more urban areas, the plug could get run over by traffic while in use, cars parked over the cover, construction or weather (snow).

  • Newburgher

    Interesting how they were unrolling the hose too. I saw it at least four times in the video. Very different way of handling the fireground at what would appear to be, from our perspective, a pretty easy, routine fire. I wonder if they do it that way at all fires?

  • 8truck

    I don't like relying on the word of teachers and high school kids that everyone made it out. I remember how our fire drills went. You would think they would of saw the coutless videos of our guys doing it their way and burning the building down.

  • Legeros

    Wonder what they see when they watch our videos?

  • Fire21

    I do remember a previous video from England, and one of the comments stated that they don't get nearly the flows thru hydrants that we get.  I agree that American FFs would go inside and get the fire, but remember, this is a different country, different apparatus, different capabilities, and different training.  If this is how they do it, who are we to criticize?  Wonder what they have to say about our videos?  I do believe Europe's fire statistics make ours look shameful…per capita fires, fire fatalities, etc.
    And that must have been a terrorist computer to start a fire like that!!!

    • Tower5Ladder

      Because they critize the “Cowboys of the USA” on a daily basis. How many times you hear some of the Pretenders here in the US say we should be more like Europe, because they have 0 LODD’s. (easy to achieve when you dont do anything) Your also not comparing apples to apples when talking statistics. Comparing the socialistic society of England to the Conservative Republic of the USA is like comparing apples to oranges.

      • Jay

        Amen to that lots of those guys on the internet love to bash firefighting in the US and how we “accept” LODDs…

  • Gil

    And they say we look funny with our leather helmets and pre connected hose lines.

  • old man1

    Not very impressive pushing it back inside.

  • T. McLoughlin

    Not to worry fella's.  I checked with them and they plan on making an interior search next Friday, so long as the the cleaning ladies are done in time for them to enter.  Primary search being thoroughly pre-planned, secondary search…. well, we'll cross that bridge down the road.  Don't want to act like those crazy, aggressive Americans.  Someone could get hurt, you know….

  • oldhead

    Everyone is missing the obvious point:  the firefighters were SAFE.

  • Mack Seagrave

    Ah yes … The infamous Monty Python Volunteer Fire Brigade in all their splendor!!!

  • Crowbar

    During the thirty year period 1978 through 2008 there were 122 firefighter LODD in the United Kingdom.  For the same period there were 3481 LODD in the U.S.  Isn't firefighting first and foremost about protecting life?  122 versus 3,481.  Who's winning that battle?
    Sources:   and

    • Legeros

      NFPA study on US and UK civilian deaths and injuries,

    • Tree

      Not a particulary apt comparison.  The British Isles as a whole have an area that is just 3.27% of the US.
      In comparison, using your numbers, the number of deaths in Britain was 3.5% of the US total.  Statistically, that comes out just about equal.
      Population-wise, the UK has 20% of the population of the US.  That puts your numbers in a better light, with US number (using current census) at 1.9 FF deaths per 1000 population, while the UK has .11 deaths per 1000 population over the 30 years.
      What we're missing here is comparative fire exposure, which is another significant consideration.
      That doesn't mean we couldn't ge doing it better, but we need to compare apple to apples.

    • CHAOS

      Since you obviously didn't have the time to explore all the variables involved in those statistics, luckily you have your friends on here who are willing to help out…LOL.  Compare the size differences of the UK and US.  Compare the population difference.  Compare the legal ramifications to ICs in FF death situations (granted, we see some pretty criminal stupidity on our side of the pond – it's just not prosecuted).   Compare the construction styles found in the vast majority of UK buildings versus in the US.   Hmmm, it seems there might be more contributing factors than just a straight-up numbers comparison.
      There are high school football teams that outscored the Patriots and Giants this past season.  Does that mean they are better teams??  Come on, that one set of numbers says they are.   Geez.

  • Dom

    You also have to remember that this is a country where Fire Commanders go to prison for 5 – 10 years when one of their people are killed. Wouldn't you be nervious about sending people in a building if you were going to end up in prison if one of them is killed?

  • Anonymous

    Wow Crowbar, I guess that's all the information and statistics that are available.You certainly took the time to cover all of the angles didn't you? Come on, seriously?

  • Jerome Smiff

    I see the exact same tactics employed by my local FD in PWC.  Now I know where they get their training from.

  • Crowbar

    Obviously there are many other variables to consider and I thank you all for pointing a few of them out but I maintain that by ANY comparison method the number of LODDs in the U.S. versus the UK is disproportionate.
    Using population as a basis with the U.S. being 4.8 times larger than the UK, the rate of death for U.S. firefighters is still 6 times that of the UK over the thirty year period.  That's an awful lot of deaths for other variables to be accounting for.

  • North Chief

    Wonder if they have KIC's on thier blogs.

  • ukfbbuff

    The Fire Service in the UK, Scotland and the Isle of Mann, operate under a Uniform set of Rules and Regulations.

    A. In order to enter the building a (SC)”BA Control” (Accountability) Point is established to determine the “R-O-A-M”
    by writing down the wearer’s cylinder pressure and then calculates their work-return cycle.

    If their “PASS” device sounds before they get back to the Control Point, the FF can face disciplinary action.

    This came about after the 1958 London’s “Smithfield Meat Market Fire”,in which two FF’s were LODD’s.

    What they developed in London, BA Control was later adopted Nationally.

    Although later in the Video, it does look like a “reel” line is taken inside through one of the doors.

    B. Hose rolls. Yes. It is some what amazing that they in 2012 still “Lay Out” their hose this way as opposed to using a hose bed.

    Consider that the Pump Operators controls are located in the rear of the Appliance/Engine.

    C. For those of you interested in the UK Fire Brigades, you can find episodes of:

    “London’s Burning” on You Tube. And their is “FBU You Tube”, the Union video’s.

    The Series has a Two Hour Movie and then several season’s of episodes at fictional “Blackwell” Fire Station, and in which you can see how the PPE and Equipment Changes over the years.
    From a Wool Tunic, plastic “leggings” (those are not TO Pants) and Cork Helmet to the near current state of the art.

    You can see the crews going from All Male Crews to Women coming into the Ranks and as Co. Officers.

    My favorite episode is “How To Drive a Fire Engine”.

    Start there and then explore the LFB of 10-15 years ago.

  • mark

    Definitely some weird laws across the pond. Didn’t realize they had them for the fire service as well. Makes you wonder how we ended up with some of the laws we have, when many were based on English Common Law.

    Those guys sure get their PT in running around unrolling hose. I’ll leave it at that.

  • Tower5Ladder

    You can compare statistics all you want. Its a joke! Your comparing two different societies and beliefs, and a slew of differences that none have referenced. To me, this video looked like the USA fighting a fire in the 60’s. Minus the BA’s they didnt need. In England if your trapped in a fire your screwed, because in there minds, they didnt start the fire and they arent risking anything to help you. There GIANT UNIONS will make sure of it. If the USA stood outside at every fire and did as little as these guys,you might get comparable numbers too. But in doing so, are civilian deaths would probably triple or worse. But hey, “everyone went home” right??? After all its not are fault that guy was homeless and sleeping in a vacant to stay warm. (Sarcasm) If the US Fire service ever becomes “European”, it will be the day the real firefighters get as far from the fire service as possible! The fire service I was brought up in protected LIFE AT ALL COST! You dont wonder what their financial status is, or wether they live in a nice home, or squatting in a vacant to stay warm, YOU SAVE THEM, or atleast TRY!!! We also dont give a half assed effort to save your property because everyone “might” be out….

  • Daz

    I asked a few mates from the UK their opinion if the video, and whilst they agreed its not awesome they all answered in the following way “since several senior officers were charged with the deaths of their crews guys are really reluctant to make the wrong choice, especially if there is no life risk”

    You gotta feel for the guys, what would you do if several of your Captains and Battalion Chiefs were arrested and charged with the deaths of crew members ? Would you be willing too risk severe jail terms ?

  • Jonno

    Keep putting guys on top of fires chaps- you so piss me off- your ignorance is shameful.