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Tower block fire-fighting exercise after Grenfell tragedy

The Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Service working with the Ministry for Housing are carrying out controlled fire training exercises following the Grenfell Tower incident in London.

Yesterday morning, under the observation of the Royal Gibraltar Police, an exercise was carried out at Referendum House in Glacis Estate consisting of fire fighters conducting a full scale rescue simulation from one of the upper floors within the building, using artificial nontoxic smoke and fire hoses.

While the exercise was a routine one for the GFRS, the Ministry of Housing took the opportunity to be part of it following the Grenfell Tower fire in order to better understand and assist in its review of all policies and procedures regarding fire safety in housing estates.

Minister for Housing, Samantha Sacramento, attended the exercise and observed how it was being undertaken. It was important, she said, that everyone worked together to ensure that all adequate process and procedures to ensure safety were in place.

“I have today witnessed what it would be like in the event that there was a fire in a high rise building and it was important for Housing senior management and myself to have been present today to contextualise our responsibilities,” she said.

“Having been involved in such a realistic simulation this morning, I am humbled by the work undertaken by the Gibraltar Fire and Rescues Service, and indeed by all emergency services in such an eventuality,” she added.

The Housing Department and Housing works agency will continue to work closely with all relevant agencies and departments in order to ensure that all existing measures are adequate to keep tenants safe.

A Government statement said that one of the abundantly clear observations in the process was the absolute need to keep corridors and access areas free from clutter and any object that may impede access in the event of an emergency.

Tenants of Referendum House were notified of the exercise in advance by notice last week and housing staff attended Referendum House earlier in the week to inform tenants who live on the higher floors in person so that no one was alarmed by yesterday’s exercise.

The Housing Department also thanked all its tenants for their collaboration during the exercise.

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